The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit vacated a $176 million district court damages award to Covidien, formerly known as Tyco Healthcare Group LP, in a patent infringement suit against Ethicon Endo-Surgery, Inc., a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson. Covidien’s lawsuit alleged that Ethicon’s Harmonic ultrasound cutting devices infringed U.S. Patent Nos. 6,682,5446,063,050; and 6,468,286. According to the Federal Circuit, “the asserted patents generally disclose a surgical device… that employs ultrasonic energy to cut and coagulate tissue in surgery.” Figure 12 from U.S. Patent No. 6,063,050 is illustrated below:

Click here to view the image

The Federal Circuit held that the claims Covidien asserted against Ethicon were invalid as obvious. The opinion stated that “the district court improperly held that the Ethicon Prototype could not be considered prior art under 35 U.S.C.  § 103, and erred in finding that the… claims would not have been obvious.”