Edwards Lifesciences Inc. (NYSE:EW) lost another round in its patent fight against Medtronic Inc. (NYSE:MDT) subsidiary CoreValve Inc. over patents covering catheter heart valves.
Judge Gregory Sleet of the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware ruled invalid an Edwards claim on one of three patents in an infringement lawsuit Edwards filed against CoreValve in 2008. Sleet’s finding means that patent, the so-called ‘462 patent, will have to be sorted out in another lawsuit Edwards filed last year against CoreValve.*
The case involves three patents covering "collapsible and expandable tissue valve prostheses and methods for replacing human heart valves using minimally invasive catheterization procedures," according to court documents. Last month a German court upheld a lower court’s ruling that CoreValve’s transcatheter aortic valve does not infringe on Edwards Lifesciences’s German patent.
Edwards downplayed the ruling in an emailed statement:
"This summary judgment decision has little impact on the jury trial that began Tuesday, or on the ultimate validity of the ‘462 patent. Edwards wanted to enforce two of its Andersen patents in the current trial. However, the court ruled that this trial will address only Edwards’ main patent (the ‘552), leaving the ‘462 patent for a separate lawsuit that Edwards filed in 2009."
The CoreValve system is designed to enable the replacement of a diseased aortic valve without open heart surgery. Edwards claimed the technology infringed on a patent it held in Germany and has filed similar suits in the U.K. and the U.S.
Edwards and CoreValve Inc. began the patent spat when the Irvine, Calif.-based rivals filed suit against each other in 2007. Medtronic inherited the beef when it purchased CoreValve in April 2009 for about $700 million.
It’s not the only legal imbroglio for CoreValve, however. Earlier this month the U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts demanded documents in a false claims probe into the relationship of its CoreValve subsidiary with the Burlington, Mass.-based Lahey Clinic, “specifically relating to cardiologists at the clinic, CoreValve Inc. … and the Lahey Clinic, and certain employees of both [Medtronic] and the clinic, among other topics.”
Also earlier in March, Medtronic launched what’s expected to be a 1,000-patient study of the CoreValve system, hoping to win clearance for the device from the Food & Drug Administration. The CoreValve system was approved for sale in Europe in 2007.