Kirkland & Ellis LLP today announced that the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts entered a $226.3 million jury verdict returned for client Biedermann Motech and its licensee, DePuy Spine, in a patent-infringement trial concerning spinal screws against Medtronic Sofamor Danek. Concluding that Medtronic Sofamor Danek infringed, the jury on Sept. 27, 2007, ordered Medtronic on to pay $226.3 million to Biedermann and DePuy Spine. Biedermann's patented screw is an improved spinal stabilization device that yields significantly shortened operating time and improved clinical results.
The court entered the judgment following a post-trial evidentiary hearing on Medtronic's defense that the Biedermann patent could not be infringed without being invalidated by prior art. In rejecting Medtronic's defense, the court noted that "[e]vidence that the defendants copied the '678 patent, after failing to come up with a satisfactory design, supports a finding of nonobviousness."
Luke Dauchot, the lead Kirkland trial lawyer for patent owner and DePuy partner Biedermann Motech GmbH, noted that researchers at Biedermann "came up with this invention and it's our position it was an invention Medtronic took and didn't pay for."
The suit was first filed in 2001 by Biedermann and DePuy, and accused a number of Sofamor Danek spinal screws, including the Vertex screw, which the trial court initially found not to infringe. A jury found another accused Sofamor Danek screw to infringe and awarded damages in the amount of $21 million. Kirkland was engaged at the appellate stage by Biedermann. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed the jury verdict and remanded the case for trial on Medtronic's Vertex screw. The trial on the Vertex screw lasted three weeks. Following closing argument by Mr. Dauchot, the jury deliberated for approximately three hours to reach a unanimous verdict in favor of plaintiffs and awarded them all of their claimed lost profits.
The verdict was reportedly the largest jury award in Massachusetts history and the second largest U.S. patent verdict this year (surpassed only by the jury verdict that Kirkland partner John Desmarais obtained for Alcatel-Lucent in February).
In addition to Mr. Dauchot, who is a partner in Kirkland's Los Angeles office, the Kirkland trial team included partner Greer Shaw, and associates James Rodriguez and Kamran Salour. All three of these attorneys are also resident in Los Angeles.
Kirkland & Ellis LLP is a 1,300-attorney law firm representing global clients in complex intellectual property and technology, litigation, dispute resolution and arbitration, corporate, restructuring and tax matters. The Firm has offices in Los Angeles, Chicago, London, Hong Kong, Munich, New York, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.