A federal appeals court today upheld an $85 million win for Smith & Nephew (NYSE:SNN) over orthopedics rival Arthrex in an 11-year-old patent infringement dispute over anchors used in shoulder surgeries.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit upheld a ruling by Judge Michael Mosman of the U.S. District Court for Oregon in the 2nd trial of a case Smith & Nephew brought against Arthrex back in 2004.
The British healthcare giant won $20.5 million in a June 2008 ruling that Arthrex willfully infringed the patent. After the Federal Circuit court overturned that decision in November 2009, the case went back to trial with a new interpretation of the terms of the patent.
A jury granted SNN an $85 million win in June 2011, finding that Arthrex was guilty of patent infringement with its SutureTak, PushLock and Bio-PushLock shoulder repair anchors. But in December 2011, Mosman ruled that Arthrex didn’t infringe on SNN’s surgical anchor patents, finding that "no reasonable jury could possibly find that Arthrex infringed in this case," including via indirect infringement. The Federal Circuit court overturned that decision, sending the case back to the Oregon district court for Mosman to reconsider. Arthrex asked the U.S. Supreme Court to hear an appeal of the Federal Circuit decision, but the high court declined in December 2013.
Today the appeals court upheld Mosman’s most recent judgment, ruling that "Arthrex has wholly failed to explain, or persuasively show, how the assumed broadening of claim construction newly made relevant any of the 6 references it cited in the district court," according to court documents.
The Federal Circuit also upheld the damages awards in the case, according to the documents.
Last October the U.S Patent & Trademark Office upheld the validity of the Smith & Nephew patent, a year after Mosman barred Arthrex from selling some of its suture anchors in the U.S. until the SNN patent expires.
Smith & Nephew is not Arthrex’s only legal opponent. KFx Medical won a pair of decisions in July 2013 over technology used to attach soft tissue to bone (a month later, Smith & Nephew inked a licensing deal with KFx for some of the products under dispute with Arthrex). Arthrex in January lost an appeal of the KFx decision.