The U.S. Supreme Court today put an end to a patent infringement lawsuit between Baxter (NYSE:BAX) and Fresenius (NYSE:FMS) when it declined to review the case.
The Supremes’ decision to deny certiorari in Baxter et al v. Fresenius et al means last year’s reversal of Baxter’s win over dialysis device rival Fresenius will stand.
The lawsuit had landed Baxter a $23.4 million win when a lower court ruled that Fresenius was guilty of infringement, but the lawsuit took an unusual turn when the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office canceled Baxter’s patent before damages were fully awarded.
A jury in 2008 awarded Baxter damages, ruling that Fresenius was in violation of patents covering hemodialysis technology with touch-screen interfaces. After the jury had made its decision, the case was remanded to a lower court to determine damages.
During the trial, the patent office was conducting its own review of Baxter’s patents. After the jury decision, but before damages were finalized, the PTO canceled the patent in question, throwing the court’s ruling into legal limbo.
In general, USPTO decisions don’t apply retroactively to closed cases, but because the books were still technically open, Fresenius successfully argued that the patents in question were no longer valid and that the case should be thrown out.
Baxter attempted to appeal that decision, but an appeals court late last year ruled that the timing of the USPTO decision negated the claims against Fresenius. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit denied Baxter’s petition for a rehearing and for en banc review, voting 10-1 against. The lone holdout, Judge Barbara Newman, wrote that the USPTO has the authority to over-ride the courts.