Marshall jury issues staggering $400M verdict against Boston Scientific in patent case

By Marilyn Tennissen | Feb 20, 2008

Eric Albritton

Federal jurors in Marshall agreed with a New Jersey doctor that Boston Scientific infringed his patent for a coronary stent device and awarded Dr. Bruce Saffran more than $430 million in past royalties.

After deliberating less than two hours on Feb. 11, jurors awarded $431,867,351 to Saffran, who argued that Boston Scientific's Taxus Express and Taxus Liberte stents violated his 1997 patent.

A week later, U.S. District Judge T. John Ward for the Eastern District of Texas upped the award to more than $500 million with the addition of $69 million in interest on royalties from the 2004 U.S. launch of Boston Scientific's drug-coated heart stents.

"The Company believes the jury verdict is unsupported by both the evidence and the law," Boston Scientific stated in a press release after the verdict. "On these grounds, the Company plans to seek to overturn the verdict in post-trial motions before the District Court and, if unsuccessful, to appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. The Company believes it will prevail on appeal."

Saffran, a medical doctor and Ph.D. from Princeton, filed suit against the Natick, Mass.-based Boston Scientific on Dec. 16, 2005.
In question was U.S. Patent No. 5,653,760 for a Method and Apparatus for Managing Macromolecular Distribution issued Aug. 5, 1997.

Heart stents are tiny, mesh-wire tubes that prop open coronary arteries and Saffran's patented stents include a drug coating that is released to prevent scar tissue from creating new blockage.

Boston Scientific denied Saffran's infringement allegations, and in February 2006 filed a counterclaim against the radiologist. The company argued that the claims of the '760 Patent were invalid for failure to comply with the conditions for patentability.

Saffran was represented by Eric Albritton of Longview, with attorneys from Dickstein Shapiro Morin & Oshinsky LLP from Washington, D.C.

Lead attorney for Boston Scientific was Melvin R. Wilcox III of Wilson, Sheehy, Knowles, Robertson & Cornelius PC in Tyler. Kenyon & Kenyon of New York, N.Y., also assisted with defense.

Saffran's award covers only past royalties. Judge Ward also ordered that the question of future royalties be split into a separate case after the doctor files a new complaint and ordered Boston Scientific to file quarterly reports with the court on sales of the products found to infringe the patent.

Saffran has a similar patent suit against Johnson & Johnson over its Cypher stent that is pending in Ward's court.

Drug-eluting stents by the two companies have been used in around 3 million patients. Both Boston Scientific and Johnson & Johnson have also been hit with thousands of lawsuits after a handful of patients developed blood clots.

According to its Web site, Boston Scientific employs approximately 29,000 people and operates 26 manufacturing, distribution and technology centers worldwide.

Case No. 2:05-cv-547-TJW

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