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13 May 2016Americas

Federal Circuit upholds Howmedica patent ruling

The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has refused to review an earlier ruling that invalidated a patent owned by Howmedica Osteonics in the company’s dispute with medical device company Zimmer.

In a judgment handed down yesterday, May 12, the Federal Circuit refused to review its decision from February this year.

Howmedica had attempted to salvage one of the patents in the dispute, US number 6,818,020, which covers an ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene with a superior oxidative resistance.

The patent describes its claims as being directed toward a “medical implant”.

In 2005, in a lawsuit filed at the US District Court for the District of New Jersey, Howmedica claimed Zimmer infringed the ‘020 patent as well as three others.

All of the patents deal with processes used to heat and irradiate polymers in medical implants.

The court invalidated the other three but stayed a decision on the ‘020 patent because Zimmer had filed an inter partes re-examination request of claims 1-12 of the patent at the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) in 2009. Inter partes re-examinations became inter partes reviews in 2012.

The USPTO’s Patent Trial and Appeal Board said that claims 1-6 were obvious but accepted claims 7-12 as being valid. The Federal Circuit, however, reversed the ruling on claims 7-12 and invalidated the patent as a result.

Howmedica asked for a re-hearing but its request was denied.

In its latest ruling, the Federal Circuit did not provide a reason for its refusal and instead re-published February’s judgment.

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