A Medical Device Daily

Thermage (Hayward, California), a developer of aesthetic devices based on radio frequency technology, characterized the countersuit filed on Jan. 10 by Syneron (Yokneam, Israel) as being without merit (Medical Device Daily, Jan. 12, 2005).

In July 2004, Thermage filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Syneron's Aurora, Polaris, and Galaxy systems (MDD, July 27, 2004). Thermage claims Syneron infringes six patents.

“Syneron has resorted to a common tactic of deflecting attention from its own infringement by purchasing and asserting an old patent from a third party that discloses technology fundamentally different from that invented and used by Thermage,“ said Thermage President and CEO Bob Byrnes. “This is an attempt to distract stakeholders from the merits of our own very strong infringement lawsuit against Syneron, which is based on six solid patents containing over 100 claims,“ Byrnes added.

Thermage commercially launched its ThermaCool system for tissue tightening and contouring in July 2002 and now has more than 1,200 systems installed worldwide. In June 2004, the ThermaCool system received FDA clearance for full-face treatment, adding to the clearance obtained in November 2002 for treatment of periorbital (around the eyes) wrinkles and rhytids.

The ThermaCool system uses capacitive radiofrequency (CRF) technology to non-invasively generate deep, uniform, volumetric heating of surface tissue to tighten and contour both skin and underlying tissue, while protecting the skin's outer layer with a cooling cryogen spray. The deep volumetric heating action promotes immediate collagen contraction beneath the skin surface and generates new collagen growth over time.

Thermage is a manufacturer of aesthetic technologies that are designed to achieve a desired cosmetic or therapeutic effect on and under the skin surface.

Syneron manufactures devices powered by its ELOS combined-energy technology enabling a range of medical/aesthetic applications, including hair removal, wrinkle reduction, rejuvenating the skin's appearance and the treatment of acne, leg veins and cellulite.

3M (St. Paul, Minnesota) reported that the Supreme Court of Mississippi overturned a $22.5 million verdict against it in an asbestos-related case involving two of its respiratory products. These safety products did not contain asbestos. The case was originally filed in April 2000 and was tried in October 2001 in the Circuit Court of Holmes County, Mississippi. The Supreme Court's decision concludes the case, 3M said.

3M said it has prevailed in seven of seven cases involving its respiratory products taken to trial, winning jury verdicts in six of these cases.

In other legalities:

A federal judge refused on Thursday to throw out secret recordings that prosecutors say prove that Richard Scrushy, the embattled former HealthSouth (Birmingham, Alabama) CEO, was part of a massive fraud.

Judge Karon Bowdre, of U.S. District Court in Birmingham, also ruled that the FBI did not violate Scrushy's privacy by searching his HealthSouth office suite without a warrant.

While the back-to-back decisions were a setback for the defense, Bowdre could still bar jurors from hearing the evidence. Final jury selection is set for today, with opening statements scheduled for Tuesday.

Scrushy is charged with fraud, conspiracy, perjury, obstruction of justice, money-laundering and violating the Sarbanes-Oxley law on corporate reporting.

Scrushy had asked Bowdre to bar jurors from hearing digital recordings made secretly in 2003 by William Owens, a former HealthSouth CFO, at the direction of FBI agents. The recordings of conversations between Owens and Scrushy are full of flaws that make them inadmissible, the defense claimed.

But the judge agreed with prosecutors, who said the recordings should not be thrown out before the trial.

Scrushy also challenged a search of his corporate office conducted March 20, 2003, as being illegal. But the judge again sided with prosecutors, who said the search was legal because HealthSouth lawyers granted permission.

Medi-Hut (Spring Lake, New Jersey) reported that it recently finalized a settlement and release in connection with its action against Kinray, a New York-based pharmaceutical distributor, and a company officer, Santi Greco. This action was part of the litigation commenced December 2003 in the Superior Court of the State of New Jersey, Monmouth County.

Kinray agreed to pay to the company $300,000, the settlement entered into without any admission of liability or any inferences of wrongdoing.

Medi-Hut also reported reaching settlements last year with two other defendants in this action.

In November, the company entered into a settlement and release with Laurence Simon, its former CFO. In exchange for the return of 30,000 shares of the company's common stock and certain other non-monetary consideration, Medi-Hut agreed to dismiss its claims against Simon.

In September, Medi-Hut entered into a settlement and release with Lawrence Marasco, its former vice president. Marasco paid the company $60,000, returned 405,000 shares of its common stock and agreed to provide certain other “non-monetary consideration,“ Medi-Hut said.

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