Texas Jury Orders J&J to Pay $482M in Patent Lawsuit

January 31, 2011

A federal jury in Texas on Jan. 28 ordered Johnson & Johnson and a subsidiary to pay $482 million in damages to an inventor who claimed the health care giant infringed on his patent for a cardiac stent.

Jurors hearing the case in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas deliberated for two hours before returning the verdict against Johnson & Johnson and Cordis Corp.

Heart stents are mesh-wire tubes that prop open coronary arteries after surgery to remove fatty plaque. The dispute centered over Cordis’ Cypher drug-eluting stents, which release a drug to help keep arteries from becoming blocked.

Bruce Saffran, a doctor from Princeton, N.J., sued the two companies in 2007, claiming the Cypher stents infringed on his 1997 patent covering technology to deliver injury-healing medication inside the body. Jurors concluded that Saffran proved that the Cypher stents infringed on his patent and that Johnson & Johnson and Cordis did so willfully – opening the door for the court to potentially triple the amount of damages.

Cordis officials said the company is “disappointed” with the jury’s ruling.

“The company believes this is contrary to both the law and the facts set forward in the case. We will ask the judge to overturn this verdict and if unsuccessful, we plan to appeal the verdict,” Cordis spokeswoman Sandra Pound said in a statement.

In 2008, another federal jury in Marshall awarded Saffran a $431.9 million patent infringement judgment against Boston Scientific Corp. U.S. District Judge T. John Ward later raised the amount to $501 million.

The company agreed in 2009 to pay $50 million to settle the dispute.

“We are gratified that a second jury has found that Dr. Saffran’s patent was valid and willfully infringed and that it constituted a significant medical advancement allowing the development of the drug-eluting cardiac stent, as recognized by the $482 million verdict,” said Paul Taskier, a member of Saffran’s legal team.

Shares of New Brunswick, N.J.-based Johnson & Johnson slipped 67 cents to close the regular session at $60.01. The company recently reported 2010 net income rose 9 percent to $13.33 billion on $61.59 billion in revenue.

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