Medtronic, Boston Scientific unleash patent fight at Supreme Court

Medtronic's ($MDT) long-running patent fight with Boston Scientific ($BSX) over the use of cardiac device tech finally goes before the U.S. Supreme Court on Nov. 5, the culmination of a battle that has carried on for years.

Their spat is one of three cases set for oral arguments before the court during the day. Medtronic will likely argue once again that it should not have to pay royalties in a case that could have big implications for patent licensing involving medical devices and other technology.

This has been a long time coming. At issue: cardiac resynchronization therapy device patents that Boston Scientific licensed from Mirowski Family Ventures. As Reuters previously reported, Medtronic also licensed the patents under an agreement to pay royalties for any new products using the technology in question. Things erupted on the legal front in 2007, when Mirowski Family Ventures alleged that Medtronic was using intellectual property that fell under the agreement between the two companies and needed to pay royalties.

A court fight followed. Last September, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit overturned a lower U.S. District Court ruling in a Medtronic lawsuit that had determined Medtronic's new devices didn't infringe on the Mirowski patents. That appeals decision said that the case couldn't place the burden of proof of patent ownership/licensing on the defendants, and that's the issue in play now. A subsequent appeals process has brought the case to the U.S. Supreme Court, where Medtronic will attempt to prove its case. 

The ultimate U.S. Supreme Court ruling could dramatically affect the future licensing of intellectual property rights. Patentdocs reported that the Intellectual Property Owners Association and Philips are among the parties that have submitted briefs in the case. They argued that the Federal Circuit decision should be allowed to stand, the blog noted, because to do otherwise would upend the current system that governs the licensing of patents, leaving patent holders wary about licensing their technology away.

- here's the USSC oral arguments schedule
- check out the Patentdocs blog