The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit vacated and remanded a Delaware court’s finding that Medtronic Inc. did not infringe Boston Scientific patents relating to cardiac rhythm therapy (CRT) devices known as implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs). Medtronic, Inc. v. Boston Scientific Corp., No. 2011-1313 (Fed. Cir. September 18, 2012). The Federal Circuit found that the lower court had improperly placed the burden of showing non-infringement on the patent owner instead of on the declaratory judgment plaintiff-licensee.
The patents at issue (RE38,119 and RE39,897) were owned by Mirowski Family Ventures LLC (MFV) and exclusively licensed to Guidant Corp., which was acquired by Boston Scientific Inc. Medtronic had a sublicense to the ‘119 patent, which allowed it to challenge its validity, enforceability and scope via a declaratory judgment action. As per the sublicense, Medtronic began paying royalties. It also challenged the patent’s validity. A Litigation Tolling Agreement (LTA) was entered, which stayed litigation and called for MFV to identify Medtronic products that it believed were covered by the ‘119 patent. Under the LTA, if Medtronic disagreed with the list of patented products it had the right to retain the license but was required to seek declaratory relief of non-infringement in the United States District Court for the District of Delaware. The fact that Medtronic remained a licensee meant that MFV could not counterclaim for patent infringement. Medtronic did disagree with MFV’s listing of patented products, thus giving rise to the lower court action.