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25 July 2014Biotechnology

Occlutech defeats AGA in “hole in heart” patent case

German medical device company Occlutech has successfully defeated US-based AGA Medical Corporation after the English High Court declared a patent AGA was trying to assert invalid.

Issuing the initial lawsuit, AGA claimed that Occlutech UK had infringed its patent by selling devices used to seal holes in the heart.

The patent, European Patent number 0,957,773 (773), was used for “occluding defects in the atrial septum of the heart,” according to the judgment, and was used by AGA in its ‘Amplatzer’ device, invented by Dr Kurt Amplatz.

Occlutech filed a counterclaim calling for the patent to be revoked.

In the judgment, issued on July 22, the court accepted Occlutech’s claims and determined that AGA had previously disclosed the patented invention in non-confidential clinical trials at a hospital in Bratislava, Slovakia.

The court also found that the differences between a prototype of the patented device, which was disclosed at a medical conference, and the final invention, did not involve inventive step.

As a result, the invention failed to meet the criteria for patent protection and was deemed to be obvious, the court said.

The same patent was previously revoked by the Opposition Division at the European Patent Office but that decision is under appeal.

Tor Peters, chief executive at Occlutech, said it was “very happy” to receive confirmation that it was not infringing any issued and valid patent held by a competitor.

“Our aim is to develop superior, patented, life-saving implants that make a difference to physicians and patients and we look forward to move this process forward," Peters said.

The case was the second judgment in the UK involving the two.

In 2009, the High Court ruled that another AGA patent, UK number 808,138, was valid and had not been infringed by Occlutech.

The Court of Appeal dismissed AGA’s appeal against the ruling the following year.

Gregor Grant of Marks & Clerk Solicitors LLP, which represented Occlutech in both cases, said: “We and Occlutech are delighted to have succeeded again in patent proceedings brought by AGA.

“The Occlutech devices that AGA claimed to infringe its patent are well-received by clinicians and will continue to be available to the medical profession in the UK”.

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