Covidien ($COV) won again in yet another patent challenge from a persistent rival, its latest dustup over a medical instrument known as a trocar.
The global medical device and supplies juggernaut said it prevailed against Applied Medical Resources in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit on Aug. 27, more than two years after the southern California company filed its initial lawsuit. Covidien noted that a lower court ruling in the case previously came out in its favor, concluding it didn't infringe on Applied Medical's patent involving trocar products, instruments used to puncture a body cavity wall to drain fluid.
Specifically, the spats have revolved around trocar seals, Covidien said. The company noted that this lawsuit is the fifth that Applied Medical has filed against it and predecessor companies involving the disputed trocar parts. Covidien said it ultimately prevailed in all of them.
"We are pleased the Court recognized that Covidien's trocar products are differentiated from our competitors," Steve Blazejewski, Covidien's president of surgical supplies, said in a statement. "As we have demonstrated, we will vigorously protect our innovative products, solutions and intellectual property."
Patent disputes can often be ferocious. But they can make or break smaller device companies that hit the market with what they believe is a unique iteration of a device or surgical tool, only to face competition from a much larger rival offering something similar. For larger multinationals like Covidien, patent lawsuits are annoying, time-consuming and costly. But they don't always have a material impact. For the loser of a patent lawsuit, however, the end result can leave truncated revenue prospects and the need for a serious Plan B revenue engine.
Applied Medical, which has 2,600 employees and global operations, challenged Covidien, a multinational juggernaut with 38,000 employees and operations around the world. Having lost this latest battle, it will be interesting to see how Applied Medical chooses to respond moving forward.
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