Corporate representation at congressional hearings might be assumed to be proportional to a company's patent portfolio, and if that's the case, it might be reasonable to infer that Medtronic (Minneapolis) had more folks on hand at yesterday's Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on patent piracy than any other device company.

Certainly the number of patents held by a device firm seems to say something about its prominence in the device universe, not to mention its presence on Wall Street.

According to an article in yesterday's Wall Street Journal that gave a patent scorecard for medical devices, Medtronic holds 379 patents and scores 250 out of 250 on science strength on its way to an aggregate "tech strength" score of 807.5.

Coming in a close second, as might be guessed, was Boston Scientific (Natick, Massachusetts), with a tech strength score of 662.2. The company's score is based on a portfolio of 388 patents (nine more than Medtronic) and a science strength of 250, the maximum.

However, Boston Sci falls behind Medtronic on industry impact scoring, hitting about 1.3 (on a scale that topped out at 2.5), whereas Medtronic's impact score exceeds 1.5.

Johnson & Johnson (J&J; New Brunswick, New Jersey) came in third in the WSJ analysis with a score of 412.6, based in part on a patent portfolio of 247. Coming in fourth was patient-monitoring specialist Masimo (Irvine, California), which boasts only 22 patents, but which clobbered the competition on industry impact with a score of 13.9.

Other Top 10 finishers include Abbott Laboratories (Abbott Park, Illinois), St. Jude Medical (St. Paul, Minnesota) and Siemens (Munich, Germany), and just creeping into the top 35 was ev3 (Plymouth, Minnesota).

— Mark McCarty, Washington Editor