IP Litigation Remains Active in the Orthopedic and Spine Industries

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The orthopedic industry traditionally sees significant levels of intellectual property litigation activity, and this year has been no different. One source of this activity comes from Conformis who has continued to assert patents directed towards surgical planning and patient specific instruments and implants. In 2021, Conformis filed three new complaints, settled one case, and continued another litigation. These cases have involved various companies, including DePuy Synthes, Exactech, Bodycad, Wright Medical, and Medacta.

Decisions and settlements have also been reached in several additional lawsuits relating to diverse technologies, such as bone plates, knee implants, and pedicle screws. TriMed, Arthrex, Medacta, and Zimmer are some of the companies that have been parties to these lawsuits. Alternative forums, including the use of Inter Partes Review, have also continued to play significant roles for both patent holders and challengers.

Several attorneys from Knobbe Martens – including Andrew Douglas, Jessica Achtsam, Michael Christensen, Kregg Koch, Christy Lea and Sabing Lee – presented a webinar on August 26, 2021, to discuss notable decisions from recent orthopedic and spine intellectual property litigations. The webinar was prepared in anticipation of the 2021 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and the 36th Annual Meeting of the National Association of Spine Specialists and included topics such as:

  • an analysis of claim types asserted by Conformis against patient specific implant and instrument technologies and how these claims have been enforced against and challenged by many prominent orthopedic companies;
  • how statements made by a patent holder can limit the scope of their claims in litigation;
  • how small companies can leverage their patents to derive licensing revenue;
  • trade secret issues that can arise at industry meetings;
  • how prolific doctor inventors have built and enforced large patent portfolios;
  • remedies for IP disputes outside the United States; and
  • strategies for using patents defensively as part of a countersuit strategy.

The full webinar is available for viewing at this web link.

Sabing Lee
Sabing H. Lee's practice includes strategic patent procurement, patent portfolio management, intellectual property due diligence and general counseling on infringement, licensing, international IP protection and post-grant proceedings. Sabing currently represents clients in a wide range of technologies, with an emphasis on medical devices and procedures and materials science. In the medical device field, Sabing has worked extensively with cardiovascular, orthopedic, wound care and aesthetic technologies. He has been involved in the intellectual property strategy and acquisitions of PercuSurge, Inc. (acquired by Medtronic, Inc.), Flex-Foot, Inc. (acquired by Össur hf.), Endius, Inc. (acquired by Zimmer Holdings, Inc.), ev3 Inc. (acquired by Covidien), IDev Technologies, Inc. (acquired by Abbott), and Tornier NV (merged with Wright Medical Group, Inc.), and CardiAQ Valve Technologies, Inc. (acquired by Edwards Lifesciences Corporation). Sabing currently serves on the Board of Directors for OCTANe, an organization that drives technology industry growth and innovation in Orange County by connecting ideas and people with resources and capital. From 2013-2017, Sabing has been recognized as a Southern California Super Lawyer in Intellectual Property by Super Lawyers magazine. He received Star recognition in the 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016 editions of LMG Life Sciences, published by Managing Intellectual Property. Sabing was named to the Daily Journal's list of the Top Intellectual Property Attorneys of 2014, where he was recognized among the Top 25 Portfolio Managers & Patent Prosecutors of Intellectual Property. His accomplishments are detailed in the Awards & Honors section. Sabing joined the firm in 1997 and became a partner in 2003.
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