10 spine, orthopedic patent disputes to know

Spinal Tech

There have been several spine and orthopedic legal disputes involving device patents in the last two years. Some have involved different companies, and others have involved surgeons.

January 2022

A federal judge in Delaware has sided with a prominent spine surgeon-inventor in a patent infringement lawsuit filed against SeaSpine. Mark Barry, MD, a Las Vegas-based pediatric orthopedic and scoliosis surgeon, alleged in a June 2 lawsuit that SeaSpine sells spinal alignment devices that infringe his patents. The case involved SeaSpine's Daytona deformity and small stature spinal systems.

February 2022

A Delaware district court judge has partially dismissed a spine surgeon's patent lawsuit against SeaSpine. SeaSpine had moved to dismiss a case brought by Roger Jackson, MD, alleging that SeaSpine infringed 12 patents that he licenses from Alphatec Spine related to spinal implants and systems to fixate or align the vertebrae, according to a court opinion filed Feb. 14. The judge found that Dr. Jackson only identified 10 of the allegedly infringed patents in an infringement notice to SeaSpine, leaving two patents of which he failed to sufficiently plead SeaSpine had knowledge.

March 2022

Johnson & Johnson subsidiary DePuy Synthes on March 15 was ordered to pay Gary Lynn Rasmussen, MD, $20 million after one of its products was found to infringe on one of the orthopedic surgeon's patents. A federal jury in Massachusetts found that the "Balanced Sizer" product included in DePuy's Attune knee system infringes on a device invented by Dr. Rasmussen that reshapes existing bone and cartilage before knee replacement procedures. 

April 2022

Zimmer Biomet and Nextremity Solutions were sued by devicemaker Extremity Medical for alleged patent infringement. The lawsuit involved Extremity Medical's U.S. patent No. 8,303,589 for an intraosseous fixation platform

Extremity Medical on April 28 filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona against Fusion Orthopedics concerning patent infringement of an intraosseous fixation platform. Extremity Medical alleges that Fusion Orthopedics released a product similar to its IOFiX platform.

August 2022

Nevro Corp and Boston Scientific have reached an $85 million settlement in ongoing litigation over a spinal tech patent infringement. The litigation is related to high-frequency spinal cord stimulation technology for pain relief. Boston Scientific will pay Nevro $85 million, and in return, will receive a license to practice paresthesia-free therapy at frequencies below 1,500H.

October 2022

Patrick Sweeney, MD, a retired orthopedic surgeon, is suing DePuy Synthes for alleged patent infringement involving a surgical screw he developed. Dr. Sweeney, who practiced in Mokena, Ill., invented a surgical screw to repair fractured bones in 2002, according to a lawsuit filed Oct. 17 in the United States District Court of Delaware. Dr. Sweeney received nine U.S. patents for his screw, and it was patented throughout Europe, the suit said. DePuy Synthes, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, met with Dr. Sweeney to discuss a potential partnership, but that didn't solidify. However, two years after the meeting, DePuy Synthes introduced the TFNA product. The lawsuit described it as "virtually indistinguishable from the Flow Nail product that Dr. Sweeney had presented."

December 2022 

A jury ruled that DePuy Synthes, Johnson & Johnson's orthopedic business, must pay $12 million to RSB Spine for patent infringement. Jurors found that four DePuy products — Zero-P VA, Zero-P, Zero-P Natural and SynFix Evolution — infringed RSB Spine's patents. Jurors also found DePuy hadn't proven that patent infringement claims were invalid. The verdict concludes litigation that began with a lawsuit filed by RSB Spine Aug. 13, 2019. 

March 2023

Foot and ankle device company Fusion Orthopedics has reached an agreement with medical device company Treace Medical in an ongoing patent dispute. In March 2022, Treace filed a civil action suit against Fusion in an Arizona district court, alleging patent, trademark and copyright infringement. The two parties have entered into an agreement to settle the dispute. Terms of the settlement are confidential. 

November 2023

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's Patent Trial and Appeal Board has ruled against orthopedic device company Extremity Medical in its patent dispute against Fusion Orthopedics, Zimmer Biomet and Paragon 28. The patent and appeal board ruled that the USPTO's examiner "erred" by issuing patent 166 to Extremity. 

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