ConvaTec defeats Smith & Nephew in U.K. wound dressing patent fight

ConvaTec's Aquacel AG wound dressing--courtesy of ConvaTec

A U.K. court sided once again with ConvaTec in its battle with rival Smith & Nephew ($SNN) in a patent dispute over the manufacturing process for silver wound dressing.

The fact that there even was a patent dust-up shows once again how aggressively players in a highly competitive market segment will move to protect market share for their products.

In this case, the United Kingdom's Royal Court of Justice upheld a lower court's decision that ruled on the side of ConvaTec's patent for how the company makes silver wound dressings. And so went Smith & Nephew's appeal in the matter. (ConvaTec's Aquacel AG wound dressing product uses ionic silver to destroy dangerous bacteria.)

ConvaTec notes that the European Patent office just last month determined that Convatec's patents across Europe remain valid.

It's not that wound care is ConvaTech's only game in town. The company also sells a number of ostomy, wound care, infusion, continence and critical care devices and medical supplies. In September, ConvaTec diversified its product base even further with a $321 million purchase of 180 Medical, an Oklahoma City maker of sterile-use catheters and urologic and disposable medical supplies.

Smith & Nephew, the U.K. medical devices giant, generally focuses on reconstructive medical devices and has a line of negative pressure wound therapy devices. In November, the company dived deeply into another area of the wound care business with a $782 million buyout of Healthpoint Biotherapeutics, which makes bioactive wound therapy ointments. Smith & Nephew hasn't given any sign yet if it will pursue ConvaTec in future battles. But the court defeat may force it to place further emphasis on its "organic growth through acquisitions" in the months ahead.

- read the ConvaTec release in full

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