- On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected an appeal from Covidien (a division of Medtronic) to restore a prior patent-infringement judgment against Johnson & Johnson subsidiary Ethicon. The bid by Covidien claimed Ethicon infringed on a Covidien patent for surgical cutting tools.
- Previously, in December 2014, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit threw out a finding that Ethicon had infringed on a Covidien patent. The patent-infringement verdict was worth $176 million.
- The Supreme Court also declined to hear a separate challenge by Biolitec AG of a $70 million contempt finding tied to a patent dispute with AngioDynamics. The 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had adjudicated the original finding.
According to patent attorney Gene Quinn, who is the founder of IPWatchdog.com, there is a trend currently in which the Supreme Court is not protecting patent rights of the companies that rightfully should have patent protection. But critics also note that some companies unfairly attempt to extend their patent lifecycles at the detriment of consumers.
But the biopharma industry's position is quite clear: Without adequate patent protection or the sense that the courts will protect innovative efforts and R&D-related investments, innovation will suffer.