J&J’s Ethicon Sues Covidien Over Ultrasonic Scalpel Patent

Johnson & Johnson’s Ethicon Endo- Surgery unit sued surgical-device maker Covidien Plc (COV), claiming patent infringement of ultrasonic scalpel technology.

Ethicon claims Covidien’s Sonicision Cordless Ultrasonic Dissection Device is violating a patent issued in 1994 for a vibrating instrument with a blade and clamp to cut and coagulate tissue more quickly, according to a complaint filed today in federal court in Cincinnati. Ethicon is seeking compensation and an order to block Covidien from selling Sonicision.

Sonicision, approved by U.S. regulators in February, has yet to enter the market. The device is the first by Covidien in what the Dublin-based company has said is an $800 million market for ultrasonic surgical products. Bryan Hanson, group president for surgical solutions, described Sonicision and another new product as “game changers” that can “move market share,” according to a September conference call with investors.

Covidien will “vigorously defend itself” against the accusations, Bruce Farmer, a company spokesman said, in an e- mailed statement.

“The suit is unfounded,” Farmer said. “As a leading innovator of surgical products, Covidien stands behind its developments and intellectual property.”

Ethicon, owned by New Brunswick, New Jersey-based Johnson & Johnson (JNJ), said it has been the leader in energy-based surgical devices since 1992. Covidien’s Sonicision is “substantially similar” to Ethicon’s Harmonic Scalpel, the company said in the complaint.

The case is Ethicon Endo-Surgery Inc. v. Covidien Inc., 11cv871, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio (Cincinnati).

To contact the reporters on this story: Susan Decker in Washington at sdecker1@bloomberg.net;

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Shepard at mshepard7@bloomberg.net

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