Alisanos, a Longview, Texas-based intellectual property development and licensing company, accused Intuitive of learning the ins and outs of its patent for the so-called "’573 patent, or "Through-Port Heart Stabilization System," when they began negotiation over a possible partnership in November 2000 – even as Alisanos’ corporate predecessor, Medcanica/POPCAB, was seeking the patent, according to court documents. A feature of Intuitive’s flagship da Vinci devices called the EndoWrist Stabilizer allegedly violates the patent, Alisanos claimed.
"After gaining knowledge of Medcanica/POPCAB’s proprietary information, Intuitive claimed to be interested in forming a ‘product development relationship’ with Medcanica/POPCAB whereby Medcanica/POPCAB would adapt its existing inventions (which shortly thereafter formed the basis of the ’573 patent application) to be used within Intuitive’s ‘ISI Robotic Surgical System,’" according to the documents.
But Intuitive allegedly proved gunshy and had backed out of the deal by the spring of 2001a, according to the documents, and by 2003 Medcanica/POPCAB was out of cash and eventually dissolved.
"Without Intuitive or a replacement partner, there was no business relationship to help finance the research and product development. Likewise, the once promising upstarts were without ready-access to distribution and marketing channels, even if product development could resume," according to documents filed in the U.S. District Court for Southern Florida.
Alisanos also alleged that Intuitive learned more about the patent from a company called ICAP Ocean Tomo when Alisanos was "exploring different business options and was working with ICAP Ocean Tomo to explore ways to monetize Medcanica LLC’s intellectual property," according to the documents.
"ICAP Ocean Tomo contacted Intuitive and informed it that ICAP Ocean Tomo may be able to acquire or otherwise make available for purchase Medcanica, LLC’s intellectual property – including the ’573 patent," according to the lawsuit. "Plaintiff contends that this contact by ICAP Ocean Tomo further informed Intuitive of the ’573 patent and put Intuitive on notice that the accused devices infringed the ’573 patent. With Intuitive’s knowledge of the ’573 patent, Intuitive’s infringement was and continues to be objectively reckless."
Alisanos wants a jury trial, judgments of infringement and willful infringement (which would treble any damages awarded), pre- & post-judgment interest and legal fees.