Zimmer to pay Stryker $70M in surgical device fight

Zimmer Holdings Inc. must pay Stryker Corp. $70 million—less than a third of what it was originally ordered to pay—for infringing patents on a surgical device to clean bones, a U.S. appeals court said Friday.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit upheld a jury finding that Warsaw-based Zimmer infringed three patents. It overturned a judge’s decision to triple the damage award, saying Zimmer’s defense was not unreasonable over development of a pulsed lavage, a technique that removes damaged tissue and cleans bones during joint-replacement surgery.

The two companies are the main competitors for the handheld surgical tools, which are battery-powered and replace older, bulkier machines that had to be wheeled around and plugged in. The judge in the case increased the award because the jury found that Zimmer intentionally infringed Stryker patents to build its business for pulsed lavage.

The three-judge panel said that the jury’s findings on the validity of the Stryker patents and whether Zimmer used the technology was reasonable.

Following trial, U.S. District Judge Robert Jonker increased the award to $228 million—tripling the jury’s recommendation and adding additional costs—based on “the one-sidedness of the case and the flagrancy and scope of Zimmer’s infringement.”

The Federal Circuit said that Zimmer’s arguments had some merit, so there was no intentional infringement of the patents.

The court remanded the case to determine if Zimmer still must pay some of Stryker’s legal fees because of allegations of litigation misconduct. The opinion was posted on the court’s electronic docket.

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