Stryker Corp. wins $70 million award in major patent infringement lawsuit against rival Zimmer Inc.

GRAND RAPIDS, MI – Stryker Corp. won a major patent infringement lawsuit Tuesday against rival medical technologies maker Zimmer Inc. in U.S. District Court in Grand Rapids.

An eight-person jury found that Warsaw, Ind.-based Zimmer had infringed on a Stryker medical system that is a mainstay of hip- and knee-replacement procedures. As a result, Stryker stands to collect $70 million in estimated lost profits.

That amount relates to profits the Kalamazoo-based medical products company would have been expected to make if a system by Zimmer had not been on the market.

Zimmer has countered that it did not infringe on Stryker’s patents, that it didn’t take or use those patents, and that those patents are invalid.

Attempts late Tuesday to contact attorneys representing Zimmer were not successful.

Greg Vogler, lead council for McAndrews, Held & Malloy, a Chicago-based intellectual property law firm that represented Stryker in the matter, said that as a result of the finding, Stryker intends to file for an injunction within the next two weeks to stop Zimmer from manufacturing or selling its product in the future.

“If the injunction is granted, it would, in effect, hurt worldwide sales of its (Zimmer’s) products,” Vogler said. “Because they are made in the United States, they would be enjoined from doing that and there won’t be any product for them to make to send outside the United States.”

The lawsuit involves patents surrounding what is called a pulsed lavage irrigation system. It is a battery-operated, hand-held, light-weight system that surgeons use to clear away blood and clean bones during hip- and knee-replacement surgery. It is also used to clean wounds resulting form burns and bedsores.

Stryker filed suit on Dec. 10, 2010 alleging that Zimmer infringed on patents for products it invented in the 1990s and markets as Surgilav Plus and as Interpulse. Zimmer has a product that it has made for about 10 years in the United States and marketed worldwide as Pulsavac Plus.

According to a court filing, Zimmer’s product made more than $254.8 million during a six-year period considered during the lawsuit. Sales of Stryker’s products since 2000 have been estimated at $625 million.

The federal jury trial that resulted, began on Jan. 15 and ended Tuesday before Judge Robert J. Jonker in the U.S. District Court for Western Michigan in Grand Rapids.

Vogler said Stryker also intends to file a motion for enhanced damages that, if successful, could triple the award to $210 million. He said the law allows the judge to triple such awards if the court finds there was “willful infringement” on the violator’s part. He said that would mean a finding that their conduct was reckless.

“Stryker is an innovative company,” Vogler said. “It spends a lot of money, time and investment in research and development. To protect that investment, it needs to protect its patent rights in court. It is important to receive lost profits because that money is needed to continue to build Stryker as a company, to pay its employees and more importantly to have money to continue to have more and new research and development for more innovative products to help doctors and their patients.”


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