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5 November 2018Americas

Cochlear ordered to pay $268m in patent clash

A US district court has ordered Australia-based Cochlear to pay $268 million in damages to the Alfred E Mann Foundation for Scientific Research (AMF) and Advanced Bionics.

Back in 2007, the foundation, which is aimed at developing and commercialising “innovative solutions for significant unmet or poorly met medical conditions”, and California-based cochlear implant company Advanced Bionics filed the lawsuit at the US District Court for the Central District of California.

In a trial in January 2014, a jury found that Cochlear had wilfully infringed four claims across two patents (US numbers 5,938,691 and 5,609,616) and awarded the foundation and Advanced Bionics $131 million in damages.

The patents are directed to an ear implant with “back-telemetry to monitor implant performance and communicate results in real time to a receiver located outside the patient”, according to a press release from AMF.

In April 2015, a district judge held that three of the four patent claims were invalid. The judge also found that Cochlear’s infringement of the remaining claim (of the ‘616 patent) was not wilful, and vacated the damages award.

Later that same month, the Californian court entered judgment on liability and stayed a new trial on damages pending the outcome of appeals by all parties.

In November 2016, the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit found that Cochlear had infringed two claims of the ‘616 patent, and remanded the matter to award damages.

The court also affirmed the district court’s finding that the ‘691 patent claims were invalid.

On remand, AMF and Advanced Bionics asked the judge to enter judgment against Cochlear for $131 million, along with an additional amount for post-verdict infringement, and to increase the damages for wilful infringement.

Cochlear asked the judge to find non-infringement of the second valid claim, to hold a second jury trial on damages, and to decline to increase damages for wilful infringement.

On Sunday, November 4, district judge Fernando Olguin granted AMF’s and Advanced Bionics’ request for entry of the prior jury verdict, upheld infringement of the second claim, and increased the images to $268 million in total.

Dig Howitt, Cochlear’s CEO and president, said: “We are surprised by the decision and do not agree with the reasons given by the judge.”

He added that Cochlear plans to appeal against the decision to the Federal Circuit and that the case is “likely to take years to finally resolve”.

A press release from Cochlear added that as the ‘616 patent has expired, the judgment will not disrupt Cochlear’s business or customers in the US.

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20 May 2020   Australian ear implants manufacturer Cochlear must pay $268 million for infringing a patent owned by a US medical research organisation.
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9 September 2021   Advanced Biologics has managed to convince the English High Court to expedite a patent infringement and validation suit it is embroiled in with German rival Med-El.
Americas
20 May 2020   Australian ear implants manufacturer Cochlear must pay $268 million for infringing a patent owned by a US medical research organisation.
Medtech
19 August 2020   Hearing implant manufacturer Cochlear has agreed to pay an additional $75 million to settle a patent infringement case if an original $268 million damages bill is upheld by the US Supreme Court.

More on this story

Medtech
9 September 2021   Advanced Biologics has managed to convince the English High Court to expedite a patent infringement and validation suit it is embroiled in with German rival Med-El.
Americas
20 May 2020   Australian ear implants manufacturer Cochlear must pay $268 million for infringing a patent owned by a US medical research organisation.
Medtech
19 August 2020   Hearing implant manufacturer Cochlear has agreed to pay an additional $75 million to settle a patent infringement case if an original $268 million damages bill is upheld by the US Supreme Court.