Medtronic (NYSE:MDT) won a round in its ongoing legal war with heart valve rival Edwards Lifesciences (NYSE:EW) after a federal judge in California yesterday declined to rule a pair of Medtronic patents invalid.
Fridley, Minn.-based Medtronic last year sought damages and a permanent injunction against Edwards, accusing the Irvine, Calif.-based firm of patent infringement with its Sapien transcatheter aortic valve implantation system.
Medtronic claimed that the Sapien valve and its transfemoral delivery system infringe on 2 patents covering a "Method and system for nerve stimulation and cardiac sensing prior to and during a medical procedure." The patents detail methods for controlling heart rhythm during transcatheter aortic valve implant procedures.
Edwards filed a series of motions seeking to invalidate the patents, with Medtronic filing counter-claims seeking to uphold the patents. Judge James Selna of the U.S. District Court for Central California denied the Edwards motions and largely granted Medtronic’s bids, according to court documents.
"Medtronic contends that the asserted claims cover ‘critical steps that Edwards instructs physicians to take in order to safely and effectively deploy the Sapien,’ which Medtronic considers a ‘stent device,’ ‘at the site of the native aortic valve’ through rapid pacing," Selna wrote. "[U]nder the current claim construction, the court finds that there is no genuine dispute that rapid pacing does not ‘stop or slow’ cardiac rhythm.’"
But because Selna erred in his construction of 1 of the patent’s claims, he denied Edwards non-infringement motion.
"Given the earlier use of ‘suitable for,’ Claim 43 is broad enough to encompass slowing, stopping, or increasing cardiac rhythm. The Court should have let the straightforward claim language speak for itself, because construction cannot meaningfully add to the term ‘to manipulate cardiac rhythm,’" Selna wrote.
Edwards also sought to show that the Medtronic patents are derived from an earlier patent, but Selna ruled that even if the Medtronic patent covered the earlier patent, Edwards can’t prove that it was derived from the earlier patent, according to the documents.