December 19, 2014 / 9:12 PM / 5 years ago

U.S. appeals court cuts damages Zimmer must pay Stryker

(Reuters) - A U.S. federal appeals court has slashed the damages that Zimmer Holdings Inc will have to pay Stryker Corp for infringing its patents on a surgical cleaning wand.

The top U.S. patent court said on Friday that Zimmer’s infringement against Stryker had not been willful, and thus a jury award for $70 million could not be tripled. A lower court had awarded $228 million, including legal fees.

Kalamazoo, Michigan-based Stryker sued Zimmer in 2010, saying its competitor’s Pulsavac Plus device for cleaning wounds during orthopedic surgical procedures infringed three of its patents.

Last year a jury in Grand Rapids, Michigan, awarded medical device maker Stryker $70 million in lost profits and found Zimmer’s conduct to have been willful.

U.S. District Judge Robert Jonker said the evidence showed Warsaw, Indiana-based Zimmer had all but instructed its design team to copy Stryker’s products, and he trebled the damages. With other fees, the award came to $228 million.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit on Friday agreed Zimmer had violated the patents but overturned the awarding of treble damages.

Chief U.S. Circuit Judge Sharon Prost said Zimmer’s defenses were reasonable and that the company did not act recklessly.

The appeals panel also vacated the district judge’s decision to award legal fees to Stryker, sending that part of the case back to the lower court.

A spokeswoman for Zimmer said the company was pleased with the ruling. A Stryker representative declined to comment.

The case is Stryker Corp et al v. Zimmer Inc et al, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, No. 13-1668.

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