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Michigan Jury Finds Zimmer Infringed on Stryker Patents

A recent trial in which a Stryker hip lawyer alleged that the patents from which Stryker products were created in the 1990s was infringed upon by another orthopaedic manufacturer, Zimmer Inc., was concluded on February 5, 2013.

The Judge in the case, Robert J. Jonker of the U.S. District Court for Western Michigan in Grand Rapids found that Zimmer had infringed on Stryker’s patents. $70 million in damages were awarded to the plaintiffs.

Stryker had originally filed the case on December 10, 2010 and the trial began on January 15, 2013.

Following the verdict, the Stryker attorney asserted that the company plans to pursue enhanced damages due to the claim that Zimmer acted recklessly. If successful, another $210 million could be awarded to Styker. In addition, Stryker intends to file an injunction over the next two weeks to prevent Zimmer from manufacturing and selling the relevant products.

Royalties on sales of Zimmer devices awarded to Stryker

Stryker alleged that three patents were infringed upon by Zimmer and that they did so willfully. They were:

• Irrigation Handpiece with Built in Pulsing Pump

• Surgical/Medical Irrigating Handpiece with Variable Speed Pump, Integrated Suction and Battery Pack

• Surgical/Medical Irrigator with Removal Tip and Integrated Suction Conduit

The trial lasted for five days before the jury decided in favor of the plaintiffs. They also decided that a 25% royalty rate of the nearly $255 million in sales was reasonable to be awarded to the plaintiffs.

Among other orthopaedic devices, Zimmer is the maker of the Zimmer Durom Cup hip replacement system.

Complaints filed regarding Stryker implant failure

Over 50,000 products are marketed by Stryker and they are a world leader in medical technology. Currently, they are involved in cases due to problems with their ABG II, Trident, and Rejuvenate hip replacement devices as patients have suffered from multiple problems requiring hip revision surgery due to faults with the implants. These patients suffer from metallosis, implant failure, bone fractures, and squeaky joints.

After being warned twice by the FDA about bacterial contamination and failing to address complaints, two Trident devices were taken off the market. The Rejuvenate and ABG II systems were recalled in 2012 due to metal corrosion in the devices’ modular stem.

Stryker’s products created in the 1990s; Zimmer’s around ten years ago

Stryker’s lawsuit asserted that Zimmer infringed on patents for the pulsed lavage irrigation system. This is utilized while patients are undergoing knee and hip replacements and lets doctors clear away blood and clean bones prior to implanting a hip or knee replacement. This is otherwise known as debridement. The process is used to clean bedsores and burns.

According to Stryker, they created these products in the 1990s while the Zimmer products were created approximately a decade ago. The products had different names, but Stryker stated that the similarities in design and manufacturer showed that Zimmer had infringed on the Stryker patents.