Health Care, Law, and Manufacturing

Judge awards Stryker $248.7M in patent-infringement case

July 17, 2017
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Stryker pays at least $1.43B to settle lawsuits
Kalamazoo-based Stryker is a maker of medical devices and equipment with global operations, including its Endoscopy division in San Jose, California. Photo via wikimedia.org

Kalamazoo-based Stryker is set to receive $248.7 million from competitor Zimmer Biomet Holdings after a final ruling in a seven-year-old patent-infringement lawsuit.

U.S. District Court Judge Robert Jonker ordered Warsaw, Indiana-based Zimmer Biomet to pay up last week, citing a 2016 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that set a precedent for allowing judges to have more discretion in awarding higher damages in patent infringement cases. Stryker, a maker of medical devices and equipment, had filed a lawsuit in 2010 claiming a Zimmer Biomet surgical cleaning wand had infringed on three of its patents.

In 2013, a federal jury found in favor of Stryker, awarding $70 million in damages to the company. Jonker subsequently ruled that “given the one-sidedness of the case and the flagrancy and scope of Zimmer’s infringement,” Stryker was eligible to receive enhanced damages in a trebled amount, or triple the amount of the original ruling, plus attorney’s fees. That ruling equaled $228 million.

The U.S. Federal Circuit Court of Appeals later upheld the infringement ruling on appeals, but overturned the court’s ruling that the infringement was willful, reversing the triple damages award. But the Supreme Court’s June 13, 2016 ruling in Halo Electronics Inc. v. Pulse Electronics Inc. relaxed some of the regulations in the test that determines willfulness in infringement cases. The Federal Circuit Court of Appeals sent the case back to Jonker last September to make a final ruling under the Supreme Court’s new standards.

Last Wednesday, Jonker re-affirmed his original award of enhanced damages and attorney’s fees, totaling $248.7 million.

“The conduct described above provides ample foundation for an enhancement of treble damages under the Halo standard,” Jonker wrote. “Zimmer’s conduct was egregious infringement behavior today, just like it was when this court made its original determination that enhanced damages were appropriate.”

Jonker ruled that  Zimmer’s conduct “was more egregious than most,” and Zimmer is “precisely” the type of offender the Supreme Court had in mind when relaxing the standard for awarding enhanced damages.

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