Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) appealed a federal judge’s ruling that four of its Cordis Corp. subsidiary’s drug-eluting stent patents are invalid, the latest salvo in its long-running infringement battle with Boston Scientific Corp. (NYSE:BSX).
The patents in question are at the heart of complicated legal wrangling involving the Natick, Mass.-based medical device giant, its New Brunswick, N.J.-based rival and its competitor/partner Abbott (NYSE:ABT). The dispute centers around Boston Scientific’s Promus stent, a private-label version of Abbott’s Xience V stent, and the Cordis Cypher.
BSX had asked Judge Susan Robinson of the U.S. District Court for Delaware to rule the four patents invalid on various grounds; JNJ wanted Robinson to declare infringement of a single claim contained in one of the patents, according to court documents. Robinson ruled in favor of Boston Scientific‘s claim that J&J’s patent covering the sirolimus (also called rapamycin) used in Cordis‘s Cypher stent doesn’t cover the everolimus drug BSX uses in the Promus device. Everolimus is made by modifying the sirolimus molecule at a single location.
Robinson also found that the fourth patent wasn’t specific enough in describing exactly which drug formulations it covered to be valid, because the patent didn’t include a written description of at least one example of such a formulation.
For its part, Boston Scientific is looking to put costly legal battles behind it. The company agreed to pay Cordis $716 million in September 2009 to settle 14 stent patent infringement suits. The settled cases, involving lawsuits in U.S., Canadian, Belgian, German, French and Italian courts, include the so-called Palmaz-NIR suit, involving a patent by the radiologist who invented stents, Julio Palmaz.
And earlier this month BSX agreed to another, $1.725 billion settlement involving a quartet of other cases dating back to 2003, in which the companies accused each other of violating various patents related to Boston Scientific’s Express, Taxus Express and Liberté stents and J&J’s Cypher, BX Velocity and Genesis lines.