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Judge tosses one of two stent patent suits against Cook Medical

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A federal judge Wednesday dismissed a patent dispute case against Cook Medical Inc. of Bloomington, but a Texas corporation continues to press its claim that the device maker infringed its patents on blood vessel stents and grafts.

Judge Larry McKinney of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana granted a motion to dismiss one of two lawsuits filed against Cook by Endotach LLC of Plano, Texas. The company claims that Cook infringed its patents with multiple stent and internal blood vessel grafting devices it manufactures and markets under the registered trade names of Zenith, Zenith Flex, Zenith Renu and Zenith TX2.   

Endotach claims Cook is liable “in an amount that adequately compensates for its infringement, which, by law, cannot be less than a reasonable royalty, together with interest and costs as fixed by this Court.” Endotach asserts no specific dollar amounts.

McKinney ruled Wednesday that Endotach lacked standing to pursue a claim arising from the disputed right to license the patents perfected in the 1990s by their inventor, the late Dr. Valentine J. Rhodes of Florida. Endotach signed agreements with Rhodes’ widow, but McKinney ruled that she “did not have a property interest in the Rhodes patents at the time she signed the relevant agreements and nothing was transferred thereby.”

Cook argued in court pleadings that Endotach’s filing of a second suit represented an insurance policy, and “the two cases involve the same parties, patents, and accused products, and seek the same remedies. … Endotach cannot have it both ways. Endotach’s gamesmanship should be rejected, and this case dismissed.”

Before McKinney could rule on Cook’s request to dismiss the case, Endotach earlier this month amended one lawsuit against Cook, anticipating the possible dismissal of its other suit. Endotach noted it was filed “out of an abundance of caution,” saying it would seek to consolidate the suits and correct defects in patent licensing agreements in the action that McKinney dismissed.

Despite the ruling, Cook only partially prevailed. McKinney left open the possibility for Endotach to argue to reinstate the dismissed case, saying the defects in licensing agreements could be corrected.

“Moreover, the grievances Cook raises with respect to Endotach’s litigation tactics do not amount to the kind of prejudice for which this court would grant the ultimate sanction of dismissal even if Cook had raised them in the context of a properly-filed and supported motion. Therefore, the Court will dismiss this cause without prejudice,” McKinney wrote.

Cook has not yet filed a formal response to Endotach’s still-pending complaint, Endotach v. Cook Medical Inc., 1:13-cv-1135, filed last month.

Cook is the nation’s largest privately held maker of medical devices, with annual revenue of more than $1.8 billion, the Indianapolis Business Journal reported in July 2012. Cook employs about 4,000 people in the Bloomington area and 10,000 worldwide.

 

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