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Medtronic's Fridley headquarters.

Glen Stubbe, Star Tribune

Medtronic, Boston Scientific patent case heads to U.S. Supreme Court

  • Article by: Steve Alexander
  • Star Tribune
  • May 21, 2013 - 6:12 AM

 

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to take on a complex patent dispute between Fridley-based Medtronic and Boston Scientific, the Natick, Mass., firm with operations in the Twin Cities.

But rather than battle over the validity of the medical patents, the two companies will argue before the high court over who has to prove that Medtronic did or didn’t infringe on patents.

The two patents at issue cover cardiac resynchronization therapy, or CRT, which gives the heart an electrical shock when its two blood-pumping chambers, or ventricles, get out of sync with each other.

Last September, a federal appeals court reversed the ruling of a U.S. District Court judge in Delaware who held that Medtronic had not infringed on the patents, which are controlled by Boston Scientific. Medtronic had licensed the patents.

“Medtronic is pleased that the [Supreme] Court has agreed to hear our appeal,” said spokesman Christopher Garland.

Boston Scientific didn’t respond to a request for comment.

The patents are actually owned by Mirowski Family Ventures LLC, which licensed them exclusively to Boston Scientific Corp. In 2007, Mirowski, as patent owner, alleged Medtronic was violating the patents.

That led Medtronic to sue in federal court that year, seeking a ruling that it didn’t infringe the patents in question when it did other work on CRT. Medtronic maintained that it was up to the patent holder to prove that infringement existed.

But the federal appeals court ruled that, in a case where Medtronic had licensed the patents and had sued Boston Scientific over the patents at the same time, Medtronic must prove that it hadn’t infringed.

Medtronic has maintained that the appeals court ruling would give patent holders a risk-free way to improperly expand the scope of their licenses to cover newly developed products.

 

Steve Alexander • 612-673-4553

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