San Diego Judge Upholds a Patent Infringement Verdict Against NuVasive

By Joseph Mandour on February 1, 2012

LA Medical PatentSan Diego – At a hearing last week in San Diego, U.S. District Court Judge Michael Anello upheld a September verdict in a patent infringement lawsuit against NuVasive, Inc. and denied the company’s request to grant it a new trial.

The patent infringement lawsuit, filed by Medtronic, Inc., resulted in a $101.2 million jury verdict against NuVasive over its infringement of spinal surgery patents. The large damages verdict is reportedly the eighteenth largest jury award in the United States for 2011, and the fourth-largest verdict for a patent infringement claim.

After the verdict was read, San Diego-based NuVasive claimed that it never infringed on the patents and that the evidence presented to the jury did not support its verdict. Rejecting NuVasive’s attempts to invalidate one of the patents in question, the judge also denied Medtronic’s request for a permanent injunction that would ban NuVasive from selling devices that were found to infringe its patents.

In addition, the judge upheld the jury’s damage award of $660,000 to NuVasive for Medtronic’s infringement of one of its patents. “We respectfully differ with some of the rulings and are in the process of assessing our options going forward,” stated a patent attorney for Medtronic in an interview after the hearing.

The battle began in 2010 when Warsaw Orthopedic Inc., a division of the Minneapolis-based Medtronic, filed a complaint against NuVasive, accusing it of infringing three patents for surgical implants. One of the patents has the ability to be inserted translaterally between adjacent vertebrae in a plate and screw system for stabilizing vertebrae in the cervical spine, and contains a tissue retractor.

In the complaint, Medtronic maintained that as a result of NuVasive’s infringement of its patents, the company had suffered a substantial loss of profits of over $200 million.

Patent lawyers for NuVasive contended that none of the company’s spinal fusion products infringe the Medtronic patents. The attorneys added that the company’s technology is a result of independent development that was first put on the market in 2003, and eventually “changed the face of spinal surgery.” The defense also claimed that in 2003, Medtronic did not possess such technology.

No comment was available from NuVasive on the jury’s verdict.

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Posted in: Patent Infringement