St. Jude Medical and Volcano have been embroiled in a legal battle over patents held by both companies, related to pressure wire technology that is used for heart patients. The battle began over two years ago when St. Jude Medical sued Volcano, in Delaware district court, for infringement of 5 of its patents for pressure guide wire products. The patents in suit were U. S. Patent No. 5,938,624, U.S. Patent No. 6,196,980, U.S. Patent No. 6,112,598, U.S. Patent No. 6,167,763 and U.S. Patent No. 6,248,083. St. Jude requested an injunction and damages for infringement of the five asserted patents.
Volcano replied by counterclaiming, alleging that St. Jude Medical had infringed four of its own patents, but later dropped one of those patents from the suit. The three remaining patents asserted by Volcano against St. Jude were U.S. Patent No. 6,976,965, U.S. Patent No. 5,797,856 and U.S. Patent No. 5,178,159.
Pressure wires are long, thin and flexible wires that are inserted by a cardiologist into a patient’s blood vessel. They include a microscopic pressure-sensing chip. The pressure wires measure fractional flow reserve. This enables cardiologists to determine the severity of a blockage in an artery of a patient with heart disease.
On October 19, a jury trial found, after 90 minutes of deliberation, that Volcano did not infringe two of St Jude Medical’s patents, and that two of St. Jude Medical’s other patents were invalid. On the eve of trial, the court had declared that a fifth St. Jude patent was not infringed by Volcano.
Regarding Volcano’s counterclaims, on October 25, 2012 a jury of five men and three women found that Volcano had not shown that some of St. Jude Medical’s pressure wire products had infringed Volcano’s patents.
Post-trial motions are pending or remain available to the parties in the case.
The conclusion of this trial comes amid news of a number of other patent wars, including; Baxter v. Fresenius and Smith & Nephew v. KCI/Wake Forest. As medical device companies become more entangled with disputes over patent infringement on devices, will we begin to see these types of patent wars become more common?