Smith & Nephew rival must stop selling products at center of patent fight

Smith & Nephew ($SNN) won another round in a long-standing patent fight against rival Arthrex. A federal judge has ordered the Florida devicemaker to stop selling two surgical device product lines at the center of their dispute. But Arthrex, after many appeals, said it is continuing the fight.

The ruling, issued in the U.S. District Court in Oregon, took effect on Oct. 2.

An Arthrex spokesperson confirmed to FierceMedicalDevices via email that the company is "fully complying with the court's order" until Feb. 11, 2014, when the patent term expires. Last month, Arthrex disclosed it wants the U.S. Supreme Court to consider an appeal of its $85 million patent infringement loss against Smith & Nephew that preceded the order to stop selling the disputed products. The Arthrex spokesperson noted that its Supreme Court petition remains active.

Smith & Nephew, meanwhile, issued a typical statement you'll see from companies that win rounds in nasty patent disputes:

"Smith & Nephew is dedicated to providing innovative healthcare products and services to our surgeon customers and their patients, and we will vigorously defend our intellectual property when warranted," Mike Frazzette, president of the company's Advanced Surgical Devices division, said.

Arthrex's action follows a 2011 jury verdict that found Arthrex's Bio-SutureTak, PEEK SutureTak and some of its BioPushLock and PEEK PushLock suture anchors violated a patent owned by a Portland, OR, doctor who licensed the technology exclusively to Smith & Nephew. Smith & Nephew said it uses that technology in a number of suture anchors, designed primarily for shoulder repair, such as its BIORAPTOR suture anchors.

Patent fights get pretty nasty, but medical device companies are often ferociously protective of their products, doing everything they can to maintain a market edge.

Arthrex, which is privately owned, is based in Naples, FL, but has a presence throughout Europe, parts of Asia and Brazil. The company touts on its website to have developed more than 7,500 arthroscopy-related products and surgical procedures geared toward the orthopedics space.

But Arthrex is the little guy in this fight. Smith & Nephew is a multinational company that employs 11,000 people, booked more than $4.1 billion in sales in 2012 and does business in more than 90 countries. It sells products and services focused on orthopedic reconstruction, wound management, sports medicine and trauma, and likely can keep the fight running for a lot longer.

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