A Medical Device Daily

Nellcor (Pleasanton, California) said Tuesday that it plans to challenge in post-trial motions and, if necessary, appeal a Los Angeles jury's Monday finding of antitrust violations in a case brought by Masimo (Irvine, California), a competing manufacturer of pulse oximeters.

Nellcor said the jury awarded Masimo $140 million in damages, which are automatically tripled under antitrust laws to $420 million, with attorneys' fees also added. However, the company said it will not pay any monetary damages unless there is a final ruling against Nellcor, after all appeals and other steps in the case are complete.

Masimo has claimed that Nellcor's contracts with hospital group purchasing organizations (GPOs) and other contracting practices limited the amount of pulse oximetry sales that it could achieve in the marketplace, but Nellcor maintains that "these contracting practices are widely used in the healthcare industry and the end result is lower pricing for participating hospitals."

Nellcor said that the company's business practices "have always been in full compliance with federal and state antitrust laws." It said that hospitals "seek agreements with Nellcor because of the value and breadth of our product line, the superior performance of our products, and our exceptional attention to customer service. We are confident that we will ultimately prevail when the legal process is complete."

David Sell, president of Nellcor, said, "We are disappointed by the jury's decision [but] . . . there will be absolutely no impact on Nellcor's ongoing ability to provide products and services to its customers as a result of this verdict. We will continue to offer customers our broad portfolio of products, coupled with Nellcor's outstanding customer service and support."

Nellcor is part of Mallinckrodt, a Tyco Healthcare company. It has been credited with developing the first commercially viable pulse oximeters, which monitor the oxygen levels in patients' blood.

Best Manufacturing (Menlo, Georgia), an industrial and medical glove maker, and its parent company, Tillotson (Bedford, New Jersey), reported the settlement of patent infringement cases pertaining to its patent for thin, disposable nitrile gloves.

Settlement and licensing agreements were completed with Medline Industries (Mundelein, Illinois), Shen Wei USA (Union City, California), and Asian manufacturers Zhangjiangang Dayu Rubber Products, Zhenjiang Kangda Emulsion and Zhenjiang Suhui Latex Products.

That followed previous settlement and license agreements with High Five Products (Chicago) and Omni International (Vernon, Alabama). While the financial terms of the settlements are confidential, all have included consent injunctions respecting the validity and enforceability of the patent and admissions of infringement, Best said.

Sempermed USA (Clearwater, Florida) also has entered into a settlement and license agreement concerning the Tillotson patent. All the terms of that agreement are confidential.

"We will continue to aggressively defend our intellectual property rights, support and protect our current licensees and grant licenses where appropriated," said Bill Alico, president and CEO of Tillotson. "It's absolutely critical to the future development and advancement of our industry that full protection of intellectual property and technology patents is strictly enforced."

The patent involved concerns the low modulus formulation that makes the Best disposable nitrile glove comfortable and fatigue-reducing, and which is at the heart of its flagship brand, N-DEX.