The long-running patent infringement war between Medtronic’s (NYSE:MDT) Covidien subsidiary and Johnson & Johnson‘s (NYSE:JNJ) Ethicon Endo-Surgery unit over surgical shears appears to be over, after the U.S. Supreme Court today declined to review the case.
Covidien in August asked the Supremes to hear its appeal of a December 2014 decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which overturned a $177 million award to Covidien in the U.S. District Court for Connecticut. There, Judge Janet Bond Arterton had ruled that Ethicon Endo-Surgery infringed surgical shears patents held by Covidien’s corporate predecessors, Tyco Healthcare and U.S. Surgical Corp.
The Federal Circuit vacated the damages award, ruling that an Ethicon prototype anticipated the Covidien devices “because Ethicon conceived of the prototype before Tyco’s January 1997 conception date and diligently reduced it to practice without abandoning, suppressing, or concealing it thereafter,” Chief Judge Sharon Prost wrote for the 3-judge appeals panel. “The district court improperly held that the Ethicon prototype could not be considered prior art … and erred in finding that the curved blade claims and dual [cam] claims would not have been obvious.”
The high court’s decision, in which Justice Samuel Alito did not take part, means the Federal Circuit decision stands.
The companies agreed earlier this month to bury most of the hatchet, agreeing to drop the case with each side bearing its own legal costs, except for the then-pending Supreme Court bid.