WASHINGTON Jan 22 The U.S. Supreme Court on
Wednesday ruled in favor of medical devices maker Medtronic Inc
in its dispute with privately owned Mirowski Family
Ventures LLC over whether the larger company infringed on
Mirowski's patents in making certain pacemakers.
The case stems from Medtronic's decision to ask a judge to
rule that some of its pacemakers do not infringe on technology
patented by Mirowski and licensed to Boston Scientific
as well as Guidant Corp, part of Boston Scientific and Abbott
A court in Delaware ruled for Medtronic, saying that even
though Medtronic requested the ruling, or declaratory judgment,
it was up to Mirowski to prove infringement. The U.S. Court of
Appeals for the Federal Circuit disagreed, saying it was up to
Medtronic to prove its case.
The Supreme Court reversed that decision, arguing that the
patent holder, in this case Mirowski, ordinarily must prove
infringement and that this case was no different.
"We hold that, when a licensee seeks a declaratory judgment
against a patentee (patent holder) to establish that there is no
infringement, the burden of proving infringement remains with
the patentee," the Supreme Court said in a decision written by
Justice Stephen Breyer.
The two patents in the case have to do with cardiac
resynchronization therapy, a pacemaker that detects when the
heart beats out of sync and then emits tiny shocks of
electricity to correct its rhythm. It is used to treat
congestive heart failure.
Medtronic licensed the patents in question, but in 2007,
Mirowski Family Ventures claimed Medtronic was developing new
products that would also justify royalty payments. Medtronic
filed suit, seeking a ruling that it did not need to pay.
Wednesday's decision means that the case will return to
lower courts for further proceedings, including a fight over
infringement, said Arthur Neustadt, senior partner at Oblon
Spivak LLP, who argued for Mirowski at the Supreme Court.
"The burden of proof issue wasn't one of the more
significant issues," he said. "Now it goes back to Federal
Circuit for other issues to be considered."
The case is Medtronic v Boston Scientific Corp, Guidant
Corp, and Mirowski Family Ventures, U.S. Supreme Court, No.