C.R. Bard Inc.’s (NYSE:BCR) peripheral vascular unit sued a pair of competitors over a patent covering its prosthetic vascular grafts made from expanded polytetrafluoroethylene.
The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for Arizona, accuses Endologix Inc. (NSDQ:ELGX) and Atrium Medical Corp. of infringing Bard’s patent for "Prosthetic Vascular Graft." Bard alleges that Atrium’s Advanta line of grafts and stents, its iVena vascular patch and Flixene graft violate the patent and that Endologix runs afoul with its Powerlink stent grafts.
Bard wants a jury trial, a judgment of infringement against both of its competitors, injunctions barring further infringement, triple damages, 10 percent interest on pre-judgment infringement, supplemental damages and legal fees.
Bard and Endologix have some history regarding ePTFE graft material: After Endologix won Food & Drug Administration approval to begin making the plastic on its own, it canceled a supply deal with Bard in December 2007, according to a press release.
For its part, Endologix said it plans a vigorous defense against the suit.
“We are well versed on the patent cited in the lawsuit. Based on significant prior evaluations, testing and outside legal reviews, we are confident in our belief that we do not infringe the patent,” Endologix president and CEO John McDermott said in prepared remarks. "Before developing and manufacturing our own in-house ePTFE graft material, we conducted a deep and thorough review of the patent landscape to insure that we would not infringe on any existing intellectual property. This included a specific, rigorous review of the Bard Peripheral patent named in the lawsuit, both internally and by outside legal counsel. Based upon those reviews, we believe the alleged infringement claims are without merit and intend to vigorously defend our position.”
According to Atrium, the company has been invovled in discussions with Bard management regarding the graft patent "for several years," and doubts its validity because Bard has been in "almost continuous litigation" over the same patent with Newark, Del.-based W. L. Gore Associates for almost 30 years.
Atrium CEO Steve Herweck said, “Atrium remains committed to our almost 30 year history and practice of not knowingly violating anyone’s intellectual property. Litigation by many companies today has unfortunately become an integral and daily part of business practice by many, including those in the diverse healthcare industry. We remain confident in attaining a resolution to this suit filed by Bard, and remain steadfast in our commitment to uninterrupted supply of all of our products, and our legacy of the ‘best-in-the-industry’ customer service to our customers.”