Medtronic's Corevalve Wins U.K. Appeal Over Edwards Heart-Valve Patent

Medtronic Inc.’s CoreValve unit didn’t infringe Edwards Lifesciences Corp.’s European patent for artificial heart-valve technology, a U.K. appeals court ruled.

A panel of three judges at the Court of Appeal today in London upheld a January 2009 trial-court ruling that determined Edwards’s patent was “valid, but not infringed.”

“Following argument, we were able to form a clear conclusion to the effect that the CoreValve product did not infringe,” Judge Robin Jacob said in the ruling.

Edwards sued Irvine, California-based CoreValve over an invention for valve replacement using blood-vessel catheters, without open-heart surgery. Minneapolis-based Medtronic acquired CoreValve in April 2009 for $700 million, after the dispute with Edwards had already started.

“The ruling has no effect on sales” of the Edwards’ Sapien heart valves “in the U.K. or any other country,” Edwards spokesman Michael George said today in an e-mail.

In April, a U.S. jury in Wilmington, Delaware, awarded Edwards $73 million in damages for infringing a U.S. patent for the same technology. Medtronic in February said a German appeals court ruled that the CoreValve system didn’t infringe a related patent in that country.

The lower court rejected Medtronic’s claim that the Edwards patent is invalid. The appeal court let that finding stand and didn’t consider it on appeal, since it held that Medtronic wasn’t infringing.

Meaning of Cylindrical

The patent relates to a heart valve mounted on a cylindrical stent that can collapse and expand. Jacob ruled that “cylindrical” in the patent implied the stent should have a consistent diameter. Medtronic’s stent flares at one end.

The rulings show that the exact words used in claims are “still very important,” according to Nicola Dagg, an intellectual property lawyer with the firm Allen & Overy LLP in London, who isn’t involved in the case.

“CoreValve won on infringement basically on the very simple point that ‘cylindrical’ in the claim means what it says,” Dagg said in an e-mail.

To contact the reporter on this story: Erik Larson in London at

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