NuVasive Inc. (NSDQ:NUVA) has filed a suit against Alphatec (NSDQ:ATEC) claiming the company hired on executives, including former COO and prez Pat Miles, with knowledge of its XLIF lateral interbody fusion procedures in an attempt to recreate the technology for its own products.
In its infringement suit, submitted this week to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California, San Diego-based NuVasive claims it created the XLIF method for fusing vertebral disks to reduce nerve damage and that Alphatec’s recently released devices, the Battalion lateral system, infringe on their products.
NuVasive claims that Alphatec showed interest in being acquired by NuVasive as early as January 2016, but interest was not returned. Then COO and prez Miles, who would later join Alphatec as exec chair, was noted in the court documents for turning down the opportunity to acquire Alphatec, saying it was a “waste of time as far as I am concerned.”
During his time at NuVasive, Miles is credited in inventing and creating multiple aspects of the XLIF procedure, and is named as the inventor on “at least 50 issued utility patents related to NuVasive’s XLIF procedure and systems,” according to court documents.
After divesting itself of its Globus Medical holdings in September 2016, NuVasive claims that Alphatec began to “make changes to its leadership team targeting NuVasive employees, inventors and upper level management,” according to court documents.
Miles was just one of many individuals to leave NuVasive for Alphatec, according to the filing, including inventors and upper level management the company claims were specifically targeted.
Hires from NuVasive include Alphatec’s exec chair Miles, strategic marketing and product dev exec VP Brian Snider, operations VP Mike Dendinger, posterior development VP Scott Lish and board member Quentin Blackford.
NuVasive goes on to claim that during its hiring of Snider, Alphatec stated that it he “had substantial responsibility over the anterior column business, including XLIF,” and that “we look forward to leveraging [Mr. Snider’s] energy and expertise, as we launch our new products, including Battalion Lateral,” court documents read.
NuVasive said that Alphatec leveraged this knowledge to create its new line of devices, and that it intends to continue with its development despite having taken patented technology from NuVasive.
NuVasive claims a number of infringements on its products, as well as that Alphatec willingly engaged in the infringement. The company is seeking to stop further infringement, as well as damages, including trebled damages, and other fees and costs it incurs in the suit.
The battle isn’t the first time the companies have clashed over patents and Miles. Last October, Alphatec announced a countersuit against NuVasive in response to charges levied at Miles.
Earlier that month, NuVasive filed charges against Miles, claiming that he was involved in a year-long scheme to back Alphatec and discourage NuVasive from acquiring it, in addition to breaches of contract and violations of non-compete, non-solicitation and anti-poaching clauses.
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