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Medical Company Loses Patent Infringement Suit

March 7, 1994

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) _ A federal judge has ordered SciMed Life Systems Inc. to pay a competitor more than $45 million for infringing on a patent for a medical catheter used to reopen clogged heart arteries.

Meanwhile, SciMed was given a year to continue selling the catheter in question but must pay the patent holder, Schneider USA, 15 percent in royalties on sales of the product diuring the year.

Friday’s ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Donald Alsop caps a case that began nearly three years ago. Schneider, a unit of the New York-based Pfizer medical conglomerate, is based in Plymouth and has 500 employees there.

At issues are angioplasty catheters which are threaded through arteries to reopen clogged heart arteries in lieu of open heart surgery. The specific products in question were SciMed’s Express and Rally rapid-exchange catheters, a type that are easier for doctors to use. SciMed stopped making the Express model last year because of patent concerns.

SciMed officials haven’t decided whether to appeal, the company said Monday.

In a news release, SciMed said the court ordered the company to pay damages of $45.1 million for the period through June 30, 1993. It said preliminary estimates for damages between then and March 4 with prejudgment interest could boost the total damages to as much as $66 million.

SciMed spokeswoman Karen Kelsey said the Rally catheter accounts for about 15 percent of SciMed’s U.S. sales, and that about 75-80 percent of total sales of the Rally catheter are domestic.

SciMed had fiscal 1994 sales of about $270 million.

Joseph Laptewicz, president of Schneider, said he was pleased with the decision.

″I think the important aspect is that the patent has been found valid and that both the Rally and Express were found to infringe it,″ he said. He said the catheters are Schneider’s major product line in its cardiology division, and that Schneider does not intend to license SciMed to use its patented technology.

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