Medtronic falls to Edwards in German patent spat

A German court ruled against Medtronic in a patent dispute over CoreValve.--Courtesy of Medtronic

In the latest round of a long-running dispute, a German court ruled that Medtronic's ($MDT) heart valve infringes on one of Edwards Lifesciences' ($EW) patents, removing the device from the local market as Medtronic plots an appeal.

The German District Court of Mannheim ruled in favor of Edwards and its Sapien implant, saying Medtronic violated the company's Spenser patent with CoreValve. The decision doesn't affect Medtronic's Engager or Melody heart valves, and German CoreValve sales accounted for only .5% of revenue last year, Medtronic said. The company doesn't believe the ruling will have any material impact on full-year revenue.

Medtronic plans to appeal the decision, and, separately, it's petitioning the European Patent Office in an effort get the Spenser patent invalidated, thus getting CoreValve back into Germany and preventing future legal action on the continent.

"Ultimately, Medtronic believes that Edwards' patent claims will be found to be invalid, which will negate today's ruling of patent infringement," the company wrote in a statement.

Last month, the same court ruled in favor of Medtronic over the Cribier patent, also used in heart valves, a decision that surprised the many analysts who predicted success for Edwards as it takes its case around the globe to beat back Medtronic's advancing share of the valve market.

In the U.S., Medtronic lost a similar suit, in March handing Edwards $83.6 million in lost profits, royalties and interest.

For Edwards, the latest German ruling is an affirmation of the Spenser patent, which is in effect in France, Italy, Spain and other countries until 2022, the company said.

"We are very pleased with the court's ruling," Edwards Senior Vice President Larry Wood said in a statement. "Edwards will continue to vigorously enforce our intellectual property to ensure continued innovation in the treatment of patients with severe aortic stenosis."

- read Medtronic's statement
- here's Edwards' take

Editor's note: This story has been updated to include comments from Edwards Lifesciences.

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