Boston Scientific wins $20M patent infringement case against Nevro over spinal cord stimulators

One major piece of the long-lasting and multifaceted legal battle between Boston Scientific and Nevro has finally come to a close. A Delaware jury this week sided with Boston Scientific in a lawsuit alleging its competitor had knowingly infringed patents governing the medtech giant’s Precision spinal cord stimulation technology to develop its own Senza systems.

Both of the systems direct electrical pulses to specific nerves in the spinal cord to lessen chronic pain by masking the brain’s interpretation of pain signals in the spinal column.

The most recent version of the complaint (PDF), which was originally filed in 2016, claimed Nevro took advantage of trade secrets disclosed by at least one of the more than 50 former Boston Scientific employees it’s hired since its 2006 founding, many of whom Boston Scientific says had substantial knowledge of the Precision systems and related patents.

Boston Scientific said that information allowed Nevro to build spinal cord stimulators that “infringe Boston Scientific’s patents directed to critical features of SCS systems, including features for programming the implanted device and communicating with and recharging and monitoring the status of the battery within the implantable component of SCS systems.”

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The jury agreed that Nevro directly infringed two of four contested patents, and, in one case, it did so willfully. For that finding, the jury recommended (PDF) Nevro pay Boston Scientific $20 million in royalties.

In response to the verdict, Nevro said in a statement that the fine would “not have a material impact on Nevro’s business” and noted the jury’s determination doesn’t impose any restrictions on Nevro’s product offerings.

Still, Kashif Rashid, the company’s general counsel, said: “We disagree with the finding by the jury and plan to appeal.”

Boston Scientific, meanwhile, said in a statement sent to Fierce Medtech, "We are gratified that the jury upheld Boston Scientific spinal cord stimulation lead patents and recognized that Nevro should pay for infringing those patents. This is the first step in holding Nevro accountable for the use of Boston Scientific intellectual property."

The statement continued, "The jury's decision validating Boston Scientific spinal cord stimulation patents supports our goal of bringing meaningful innovations to patients living with chronic pain conditions."

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Even without that additional appeal, the legal battle between Nevro and Boston Scientific, which stretches back to 2015, is far from over. The latter’s complaint listed another four patents it says Nevro infringed, and those plus the issue of allegedly stolen trade secrets could be litigated in a future trial, per Boston Scientific's statement on the verdict.

Additionally, Nevro hit back at Boston Scientific earlier this year in a Delaware-based lawsuit of its own. In the February filing (PDF), it claimed that Boston Scientific, in fact, has infringed several patents concerning Nevro’s Senza systems, which it said are “demonstrably superior” to the Precision spinal cord stimulators. Boston Scientific, it said, has “continually and repeatedly copied Nevro’s products and patented technology.”

Boston Scientific responded to the complaint with a request for dismissal, claiming Nevro’s allegations concern unpatentable subject matter.

That countersuit came shortly after the companies agreed in December 2020 to conclude yet another patent case, this one filed by Nevro in the Northern District of California. Nevro agreed to drop that case, it said in a statement, because it concerned spinal cord stimulation technology Boston Scientific currently has no plans to launch.

Editor's note: This story was updated on Nov. 3 to include a statement from Boston Scientific.