The long battle between Medtronic and Edwards Lifesciences over transcatheter heart valves has come to an end with Medtronic agreeing to pay Edwards Life $1 billion as royalty until 2022. The two companies have also agreed not to sue each other over the transcatheter patent for the next eight years.
To begin with Medtronic will pay Edwards $750 million for past sales and then pay a percentage of the sales of its CoreValves each year as a royalty. CoreValve sales are expected to be between $40 million and $60 million each year in the period under discussion.
The agreement between Medtronic and Edwards after Edwards won a clear victory in the patent dispute in court shows how even a victory can affect the market conditions adversely. In the case of the transcatheter heart valves, Edwards victory would have severely limited the availability of the valves in the US, a key market. This prompted Edwards to enter into serious talks with Medtronic and the two companies have now entered into a deal that ensures doctors and patients in the US can make a medically informed choice about the valves they need to use.
Patent disputes often take years to settle because of the complexity of the issues being fought over. While in essence a patent dispute is meant to protect the inventor of a product and ensure that they reap the economic benefits of their ingenuity, many patent cases are more complex. As such any inventor or innovator, whether an individual or a business, needs to retain the services of an experienced patent lawyer who can help protect their rights.
Given the global nature of business at present, a patent lawyer will help ensure that patent applications are filed to ensure global protection. The lawyer will word the patent description and application in such a manner that the intent of the patent is clear. In order to be able to do this, most patent lawyers have expertise in law and at least some knowledge of science and technology.
Protecting Your Patent
Once you have been granted a patent for your innovation, you need to be vigilant about protecting it. In case you come across an instance of patent infringement, your patent lawyer will assess the case and file a case in court about the patent infringement. Depending on the specifics of the case, the lawyer will ask the competitor to stop manufacturing or producing the product or importing it. In some instances, the patent lawyer might ask the competitor to pay a royalty for using the patented innovation or design.
Proving a Patent Infringement
When a patent infringement case is argued in court, the patent lawyer has to mainly show that a patent infringement has occurred. They can do so using various tools such as the patent granted by the patent office, the physical products that demonstrate the patent infringement, and so on. Once the patent infringement has been proved, the court will be asked to make an appropriate decision regarding the further production of the product or its sale.
When it comes to trying patent infringement cases, the courts try and balance the need for innovators to protect their interests and businesses to be able to continue to innovate. As such most courts are likely to award a royalty for the patent that has been infringed up on or impose a penalty on the business that has infringed on your patent rather than ask the business to stop manufacturing the product using the patent. Most businesses too are aware of the need to protect patent rights as they too have patents on their innovations.
This means that when you come across a patent infringement, you should first try and arrive at a settlement with the competitor with your patent lawyer taking part in the negotiations.