Appeals court gives TriMed a win in patent dispute

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has reversed and remanded a patent dispute between TriMed and Stryker in a case involving an implantable device used to set certain types of bone fractures. This was the second time the Appeals Court heard the case.

In the present appeal, TriMed was challenging a decision of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California that granted summary judgment in favor of Stryker of invalidity of certain claims of the '839 patent, which is owned by TriMed. "Because the district court improperly resolved genuine issues of material fact in favor of Stryker and because reassignment is advisable to preserve the appearance of justice, we reverse and remand with an instruction to reassign this matter to a different judge," the Appeals Court ruled.

TriMed first sued in March 2006, maintaining a wrist fixation device manufactured and sold by Stryker infringes certain claims of the patent. But after the completion of discovery, the District Court granted Stryker's motion for summary judgment of non-infringement. The court "simply sign[ed] Stryker's Statement of Uncontroverted Facts and Conclusions of Law" and entered a judgment in favor of the company. TriMed appealed, and the court reversed and remanded for further proceedings. But again, the District Court found in favor of Stryker, leading TriMed to appeal.

The Appeals Court determined that the District Court's grant of summary judgment of invalidity was inappropriate and must be reversed. The court also concluded that reassignment is warranted because the District Court has now been reversed twice after entering summary judgment against TriMed, "in both instances simply signing Stryker's proposed statement of law and facts relevant to the decided issues," according to court documents.

- see the Appeals Court's ruling