Edwards Lifesciences (NYSE:EW) won a round today in the longtime legal battle Medtronic (NYSE:MDT) over their respective transcatheter aortic valve implants when a Delaware jury ruled that Medtronic’s CoreValve device infringes a patent covering Edwards’ Sapien device.
Medtronic promptly said it plans to appeal the jury’s decision, which included a judgment for willful infringement that could triple the price tag, that the CoreValve device infringes the so-called ‘825 patent, also known as the Cribier patent.
"As the long-time leader and innovator in heart valves, Edwards invests in promising early technologies. As a result, Edwards holds a number of important patents in transcatheter valve technology, and we intend to continue to defend this intellectual property when it is used by others without permission. We are proud of our long-standing relationship with Prof. Cribier and other key innovators in transcatheter heart valves, and we continue to work with them today as we develop new transcatheter therapies for patients suffering from heart valve disease," Edwards’ transcatheter heart valves president Larry Wood said in prepared remarks.
"While we are disappointed in the jury’s verdict, we continue to believe that this decision will be overturned on appeal," countered Medtronic’s acting general counsel Neil Ayotte. "Medtronic has prevailed against Edwards in several legal actions related to a European counterpart to this patent and others, and believes the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals will find no merit to Edward’s infringement claim. Today’s jury verdict does not impose an injunction, and Medtronic will oppose any requests for an injunction by Edwards."
Medtronic said the decision won’t affect its plans to sell the CoreValve device in the U.S., where Edwards has the only approved device on the market. The FDA is expected to approve CoreValve before the end of Medtronic’s fiscal year in April, when the Fridley, Minn.-based medtech giant plans to begin selling it, according to a press release.
Edwards CEO Michael Mussallem said this week at the J.P. Morgan Healthcare conference that Edwards plans to be tenacious in defending its lead in the U.S.
"Our intention is to very aggressively respond to that competition," Mussallem said. "It’s a critical time to be meeting force with force."
The 2 companies have been battling over TAVI technology for a long time. In July 2013, a German court ruled that Medtronic’s CoreValve TAVI infringes an Edwards Lifesciences patent, forcing Medtronic to cede the German market to Edwards and its Sapien valve. The next month the European Patent Office issued a preliminary, non-binding ruling that the Edwards patent at the center of the dispute in Germany is invalid. Medtronic resumed its German CoreValve sales in November.
Across the pond, the U.S. Supreme Court denied Medtronic’s appeal of a $74 million win scored by Edwards; Mussallem this week said a lower appeals court is poised to close the books on that front of the war.