Mako Surgical (NSDQ:MAKO) won an injunction restricting a former sales executive’s ability to work for rival Blue Belt Technologies in a breach of contract lawsuit leveled between the robotic surgery companies.
Ft. Lauderdale-based Mako sued Blue Belt and Gellman in February, alleging that they breached his contract, including non-competition and non-disclosure pacts, according to court documents. Blue Belt allegedly targeted rival companies’ sales managers, according to the documents, which also accuse Gellman of stealing trade secrets.
Pittsburgh-based Blue Belt announced Gellman’s hiring in early February, after about 2½ years as a Mako sales VP.
Last week Judge James Cohn of the U.S. District Court for Southern Florida barred Gellman from working for Blue Belt for most of the summer and restricted him to an internal role, with no contact with customers, until the fall. The injunction then restricts Gellman to covering Blue Belt’s West Coast territory from Oct. 1 until Jan. 1, 2014, according to the documents.
Gellman and Blue Belt must further attest, under threat of perjury charges, that they’ve taken steps to comply with the court’s order, according to the documents.
"MAKO is pleased with the sweeping and substantial injunctive relief we obtained on an expedited basis," Mako president & CEO Dr. Maurice Ferré said in prepared remarks. "We will remain vigilant in protecting the substantial investments made in becoming the leader in the field of robotically assisted orthopedic surgery."
Blue Belt CEO Eric Timko remained unapologetic.
"We believe that this lawsuit was without merit and Mako failed to prove that Blue Belt engaged in any wrongdoing. In fact, Mako failed to substantiate many of the allegations it made in its complaint and we are confident that Blue Belt would have prevailed had the litigation continued," Timko said in a statement. "At the same time, however, Blue Belt determined that it is in our best interest to compete with Mako by selling our new robotic technology in the marketplace, instead of competing in the courtroom, where no surgeon or patient can benefit. We have established great momentum since officially launching NavioPFS in the United States. We fully expect to continue rapidly expanding our presence in the marketplace as more physicians and hospitals see the benefits that NavioPFS can bring to their patients and facilities at an economically friendly price point."
It’s not the only lawsuit involving a Blue Belt sales hire. Last month a federal judge in Michigan barred ex-Stryker marketing director James Bruty from attending the annual American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons conference.