Showing all posts written by Michael Christensen

Michael Christensen
Michael Christensen
Michael R. Christensen is a partner in our Orange County office. Mr. Christensen represents clients in the medical device, electronics, media and entertainment, and computer software fields. While he has helped clients protect a variety of technologies, Mr. Christensen focuses on building patent portfolios for medical device clients in the neurovascular, neuromodulation and spine fields.

Mr. Christensen also has extensive experience conducting patent due diligence for leading Venture Capital firms and other investors. He has also performed several IP audits to help companies identify ways to improve their patent portfolio. One of Mr. Christensen’s areas of expertise is developing strategies for expediting patent prosecution both in the United States and abroad. Prior to joining the firm, Mr. Christensen clerked with firms in Seattle, Salt Lake City and Irvine. While pursuing his undergraduate degree in electrical engineering, Mr. Christensen served as a Teaching Assistant in a semiconductor device fabrication lab in addition to taking courses focusing on digital system design and digital communication theory.

Mr. Christensen was a summer associate with the firm in 2007 and he joined the firm as an associate in 2008.

Baxter Completes $10B+ Acquisition of Hillrom

On December 13, Baxter International Inc. (“Baxter”) announced the completion of one of the biggest medtech acquisitions of 2021, acquiring Hillrom (a global medical equipment maker headquartered in Chicago) for a purchase price of ~$10.5 billion.  The deal had originally been announced by Baxter in September 2021.

According to a statement on Baxter’s website, “Baxter’s acquisition of Hillrom has formed one of the world’s leading medical technology companies, centered around a shared vision to transform healthcare.”

Baxter’s product portfolio includes diagnostic, critical care, kidney care, nutrition, and surgical products used in hospitals, physician offices, and patient homes.  According to Baxter, the addition of Hillrom’s product lines, including legacy Welch Allyn products that were acquired by Hillrom in 2015, will help Baxter improve care outcomes and broaden access to care.  Hillrom’s products include the MacroView® Plus Otoscope, the Volara™ Oscillation & Lung Expansion Therapy System, the PST 500 Precision Surgical Table, and the Centrella® Smart+ Bed.

In a press release, Baxter’s chairman Jose E. Almeida stated:

The Baxter-Hillrom combination unlocks the next phase of our transformation, presenting a new wave of potential to drive greater impact for patients, clinicians, employees, shareholders and other communities we serve worldwide.  Integrating our complementary capabilities introduces additional opportunities for growth across our broad geographic footprint and also creates remarkable new possibilities for connectivity with leading-edge digital health innovation focused on enhancing care, lowering costs and increasing workflow efficiency.

According to the press release, Baxter expects the combination to result in ~$250 million of annual pre-tax cost synergies within 3 years.

Medical Device Trade Secret Not Publicly Disclosed via Patenting, Displaying, and Selling Covered Product, 7th Cir. Affirms

Medical Device Trade Secret Not Publicly Disclosed via Patenting, Displaying, and Selling Covered Product, 7th Cir. Affirms

Can certain specific medical device details remain company know-how or protected trade secrets even if patents are pursued on the medical device?  Consider the Seventh Circuit’s commentary in its August 9, 2021 decision upholding a preliminary injunction in the Life Spine, Inc. v. Aegis Spine, Inc. case.  The preliminary injunction prohibits Aegis from selling or marketing its competing AccelFix product (shown below, right) until the case is resolved on the merits.

In 2019, Life Spine sued Aegis, a former distributor of Life Spine’s ProLift® expandable spacers (shown below, left) used in spinal surgeries, for, among other things, misusing its trade secrets.

Aegis argued in appealing the preliminary injunction that the district court erred in concluding that information about the ProLift device could remain a protected trade secret after Life Spine patented, displayed, and sold the device to hospitals and surgeons.  However, the Seventh Circuit held that “Aegis does not come close to showing that [the district court’s] finding was clear error.”  The Seventh Circuit stated that Aegis had not proven that Life Spine’s patent materials disclose the “exact dimensions and measurements of every ProLift component.” In addition, the Seventh Circuit stated that “those who attend ProLift displays do not have unfettered access to the device” and that “the only purchasers of the ProLift are hospitals and surgeons, who purchase the device for use in scheduled surgeries.”

Regarding the patent materials, a figure of which is shown below, the Seventh Circuit noted that “Life Spine’s patent did not disclose the precise specifications of the ProLift” devices.  The Seventh Circuit recognized that such dimensions could only be learned by someone who has access to the device and sophisticated measurement technology.  As for public displays, the Seventh Circuit noted that Life Spine representatives supervise those who attend ProLift displays as they handle the devices.

Regarding sales of the ProLift device, the Seventh Circuit noted that Life Spine or its distributors ship the ProLift in sealed boxes and that the surgeries are overseen by Life Spine representatives or distributors.  The Seventh Circuit further noted that “it seems doubtful that the hospitals or surgeons purchasing the device . . . would secretly unpackage the device [and] measure all its components with specialized measurement technology” and that it “seems even more unlikely that a device would be removed from a patient’s body and then reverse engineered.”

Following this decision, the case will return to the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois to continue on the merits.