Smith & Nephew scores a win in ongoing patent battle over suture technology

British orthopedics giant Smith & Nephew ($SNN) scored a win in its ongoing patent battle with rival Arthrex, as the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office ruled in favor of one of the company's patents for suture anchor technology.

The decision builds on a decade-long showdown between the two devicemakers over Smith & Nephew's patent for "Anchoring and manipulating tissue," MassDevice reports. In 2004, Smith & Nephew sued Arthrex for infringing its patent in anchor devices used in shoulder repair surgery and won $20.5 million in 2008 when a court ruled that Arthrex willfully copied the technology. But an appeals court overturned the decision in November 2009, and the case went back to trial for further deliberation.

Smith & Nephew chalked up another victory in 2011, when a jury found Arthrex guilty of infringing the company's patents with its SutureTak, PushLock and Bio-PushLock shoulder repair anchors and awarded Smith & Nephew $85 million. Arthrex appealed, and in December 2011 an Oregon judge ruled in the company's favor. But a federal circuit court overturned the decision, sending the case back to Oregon district court.

In October 2013, Judge Michael Mosman of the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon ordered Naples, FL-based Arthrex to stop selling its two surgical device product lines until the patent term expires. Arthrex is petitioning the U.S. Supreme Court to hear an appeal of that decision.

Meanwhile, Smith & Nephew is facing battles on other fronts, defending against claims over its metal hip replacements. In December, the devicemaker celebrated a victory when a U.S. district judge threw out a patient's lawsuit alleging the company's metal hip replacement left her in pain and required follow-up surgery. Smith & Nephew had voluntarily recalled its R3 Acetabular system in June 2012 due to performance concerns and a high rate of revision surgeries, but Judge Paul Engelmayer of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York dismissed the plaintiff's claims because the liner had PMA approval, thus shielding it from design defect claims.

Smith & Nephew CEO Olivier Bohuon

The British devicemaker is also forging ahead with an aggressive acquisition strategy meant to beef up product development and enhance its bottom line. Smith & Nephew has completed 13 deals worth $2.8 billion since 2010, including its $1.7 billion acquisition for ArthroCare ($ARTC) to ramp up its sports medicine offerings and spur revenue growth. CEO Olivier Bohuon said on a second-quarter earnings call that the company plans to collect two-thirds of its business in high-growth areas such as emerging markets, trauma and extremities and advanced wound devices.

- read the MassDevice story

Special Reports: 2014's most memorable med tech patent battles | Med tech M&A gets much, much bigger during the first half - Smith & Nephew nabs ArthroCare

Suggested Articles

The FDA has cleared its first fully disposable duodenoscope, following years of reports of infections being transmitted between patients.

OR-focused AI provider Caresyntax has garnered $45.6 million in new funding and picked up a data analytics firm to broaden its footprint.

A study of Foundation Medicine’s FoundationOne liquid biopsy test found it was able to predict the risk that a person’s breast cancer would return.