A Medical Device Daily

SonoSite (Bothell, Washington) reported that the U.S.Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has affirmed a lower federal court’s summary judgment of invalidity in favor of SonoSite against Neutrino Development , a patent holding company.

In March 2006, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Houston Division, granted SonoSite’s motion for summary judgment, and reversed its earlier finding that SonoSite infringed Neutrino’s patent, US Patent No. 6,221,021 (“the ‘021 patent”). Neutrino had appealed the district court decision to the Federal Circuit, a specialized appellate court that hears patent appeals. The unanimous one-word decision of the three-judge appellate panel was issued Dec. 12 after the panel heard oral argument from the parties.

“Once again, the judicial system has vindicated our position that our products do not infringe Neutrino’s patent. We are very pleased that this litigation is at its end after five and one-half years,” said Kevin Goodwin, president/CEO of SonoSite. “We believe that our own intellectual property portfolio and expertise position us to continue to be the innovator and leader in hand-carried ultrasound.”

Neutrino filed its original complaint against SonoSite in 2001, alleging that SonoSite’s hand-carried ultrasound products infringed the ‘021 patent, entitled “Method and Apparatus for Penile Hemodynamic Stimulation, Monitoring and Drug Delivery Acceleration.” The patent was issued to Neutrino in April 2001 and determined to be invalid by a US district court in March 2006.

SonoSite said it now expects the district court to rule on its pending motion to recover its fees and costs from Neutrino and Richard Redano, inventor on the ‘021 patent.

SonoSite is a developer of hand-carried ultrasound systems.

In other legalities:

Pfizer (New York) yesterday reported that the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York denied a motion for a preliminary injunction that would have blocked further sales of its inhalable insulin, Exubera, in the U.S. The preliminary injunction was requested by Novo Nordisk (Princeton, New Jersey) as part of a patent infringement case.

Novo Nordisk in a statement said it remains committed “to protecting its intellectual property” following the denial of its motion for a preliminary injunction to prohibit Pfizer from marketing Exubera in the U.S. It said that the court ruled that issues of infringement and validity would “be best served through closer inspection at trial.”

Novo Nordisk said it does not regard the ruling as impairing the strength of its underlying case, and that the ruling involves only one of the five patents at issue in the case and that it felt positive about its case vs. Pfizer.

In August 2006, Novo Nordisk filed a lawsuit against Pfizer in August claiming that Exubera inhaled insulin infringes its patents. No trial date has yet been set.

Exubera is the only inhalable form of insulin to be approved by the FDA.

• A federal judge has refused to grant a new trial for Richard Scrushy, former CEO of HealthSouth , and Don Siegelman, former governor of Alabama, who were convicted earlier this year on bribery and conspiracy charges.

Judge Mark Fuller ruled that the jury that convicted Siegelman and Scrushy in June was not unfairly influenced by outside information drawn from the Internet and e-mail.

Siegelman and Scrushy had asked for a new trial, claiming that jurors communicated with each other by e-mail during the trial and that they had considered outside material from the Internet during deliberations. Fuller ruled there was evidence that one juror downloaded the indictment of Scrushy and Siegelman from the Internet and that the jury foreman downloaded instructions on being a jury foreman. But he said those acts were not sufficient for him to order a new trial.

Appeals by the two men are expected.

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