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Texas Jury Orders Johnson & Johnson to Pay $482 Million in Patent Dispute Over Cardiac Stents

From Canadian Press DataFile (January 28, 2011)

MARSHALL, Texas -- A federal jury in Texas on Friday 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 centred 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 wilfully -- opening the door for the court to potentially triple the amount of damages.

Officials at Johnson & Johnson, which is based in New Brunswick, N.J., weren’t immediately available to comment late Friday.

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 wilfully 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 in Johnson & Johnson rose 1 cent in aftermarket trading Friday. The stock slipped 67 cents to $60.01 during the regular session.

On Tuesday, the company reported 2010 net income of $13.33 billion on $61.59 billion in revenue.


Posted: January 2011