Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ) has faced its fair share of patent woes this past year, waging battles for surgical tools produced by its Ethicon subsidiary and warding off patent infringement charges for its hip implant and coronary stent devices.
In June, Irish device giant Covidien ($COV) filed suit against J&J's Ethicon Endo-Surgery unit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut, alleging that Ethicon's latest ultrasonic surgical product, the Harmonic ACE+7, infringed three of its patents. Covidien also requested that the court prevent Ethicon from continuing to make and sell its Harmonic ACE+7 device and grant damages for the patent infringement. In October, a U.S. District Court granted Covidien's wish and issued a preliminary injunction against J&J/Ethicon's Harmonic ACE+7 product.
|Ethicon's Harmonic ACE+7|
The suit follows a previous federal court ruling in 2013, which found that Covidien's patents were valid and ordered Ethicon to pay more than $175 million in damages. Ethicon appealed the ruling and launched a new iteration of its Harmonic ultrasonic surgical device during the pending appeal.
But a bright point for the company came in August 2014, when Stryker ($SYK) agreed to dismiss a patent-infringement suit against J&J's DePuy subsidiary over hip-implant technology. J&J was part of a consolidated suit along with Smith & Nephew ($SNN), Wright Medical Group ($WMGI) and Zimmer ($ZMH), in which Stryker claimed that the companies violated its proprietary patent for "Acetabular Cup Assembly with Selected Bearing," according to court documents. Smith & Nephew, Wright Medical and Zimmer also requested that the U.S. district judge dismiss the case.
Johnson & Johnson's patent spats are far from resolved. In August 2014, Medinol asked a U.S district judge to reverse an earlier decision in favor of J&J's Cordis subsidiary over a patent covering a now-discontinued coronary stent. Medinol's original case was dismissed earlier this year because the company waited for more than 8 years to file suit, but Medinol claimed that a May 2014 Supreme Court decision, Petrella v. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, changed the framework for the decision. J&J fought back, arguing that the Supreme Court decision applies to copyright law, not patent law.
J&J freed from Stryker lawsuit, could face renewed battle with Medinol over stent patents
Covidien sues Ethicon again for patent infringement
Covidien defeats J&J/Ethicon in surgical tool patent battle