U.S. Surgical's Clip Is Eclipsed

Johnson & Johnson can keep selling Ligaclip appliers. On Feb. 16 a federal jury ruled that the Ligaclip device, used to seal off blood vessels in such procedures as gallbladder removal, does not infringe on the patent for U.S. Surgical's Endo Clip. J&J introduced its pistol-like applier in 1991 and quickly grabbed $40 million in revenues--much of it at U.S. Surgical's expense. Profits and stock price have plummeted since. U.S. Surgical said it would appeal the jury decision; it also said it had hired investment bankers to examine "strategic alternatives." The company's stock plunged 21% on the news of Johnson & Johnson's win.

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