Last year a federal judge barred Arthrex from selling some of its suture anchors in the U.S. until the expiration of U.S Patent 5601557, for "Anchoring and manipulating tissue."
Arthrex asked the patent office to re-examine the patent after that ruling, by Judge Michael Mosman of the U.S. District Court for Oregon. Today Smith & Nephew said the USPTO "issued a decision confirming the validity" of the ‘557 patent.
It’s the latest turn in a nearly decade-long legal battle between Smith & Nephew and Arthrex over surgical anchor patents. The British orthopedic medical device company first sued Arthrex in 2004 for patent infringement over anchors used in shoulder repair surgery. SNN won $20.5 million in a June 2008 ruling that Arthrex willfully infringed the patents. After the appeals court overturned that decision in November 2009, the case went back to trial with a new interpretation of the terms of the patent.
A jury granted SNN an $85 million win in June 2011, finding that Arthrex was guilty of patent infringement with its SutureTak, PushLock and Bio-PushLock shoulder repair anchors. But in December 2011, an Oregon judge ruled that Arthrex didn’t infringe on SNN’s surgical anchor patents, finding that "no reasonable jury could possibly find that Arthrex infringed in this case," including via indirect infringement. The Federal Circuit court overturned that decision Jan. 16, sending the case back to the Oregon district court for Mosman to reconsider. Arthrex has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to hear an appeal of that decision.
Smith & Nephew is not Arthrex’s only legal opponent. KFx Medical won a pair of decisions in July 2013 over technology used to attach soft tissue to bone (a month later, Smith & Nephew inked a licensing deal with KFx for some of the products under dispute with Arthrex).