- Boston Scientific filed a declaratory judgment suit in federal court Sept. 6 seeking a court order declaring its ownership rights in patents it acquired from nVision. The lawsuit responds to BioCardia's claims challenging Boston Scientific's inventorship and ownership of various patents related to women's health, including a patent on a device providing diagnostic imaging and therapeutic treatment of fallopian tubes. BioCardia also is claiming those patents were based on stolen trade secret information.
- Boston Scientific is the parent of nVision, acquired in April 2018 for an upfront payment of $150 million. nVision's owner was a former employee of BioCardia.
- In the suit filing, Boston Scientific denies all of BioCardia's claims on patent inventorship, ownership and trade secrets.
Life sciences companies are using trade secrets laws to protect their intellectual property. Trade secrets claims can be used as complement to patent litigation. Through its preemptive suit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, Boston Scientific is trying to fend off BioCardia's claims it and subsidiary nVision stole BioCardia's trade secrets and then applied for patents based on those secrets.
A trade secret is proprietary information that would be valuable to a competitor. In this case, BioCardia sent Boston Scientific a letter in April alleging former employee Surbhi Sarna stole trade secrets to develop the patent applications she later filed.
But Boston Scientific says all the allegations are false. "Defendant's decision to suddenly raise its tardy and baseless allegations after Boston Scientific's acquisition of nVision is nothing but a transparent attempt to capitalize on nVision's success."
"BioCardia's business is not related to the field of women's health, let alone fallopian tube visualization or cancer detection," the suit said.
The patent at the heart of the dispute, U.S. Patent No. 9,173,571, covers systems and methods for maintaining a narrow body lumen. Lumens can include the fallopian tubes, intestines, and coronary arteries.
For a variety of reasons, occlusions often develop in the channels of tubular-shaped anatomical structures such as the fallopian tubes and can have medical consequences. The patent claims devices and processes for maintaining a narrow body lumen, including a hydraulic propulsion mechanism for propelling an imaging portion or a therapeutic portion through the narrow body lumen; and a retrieval mechanism for retrieving the imaging portion or the therapeutic portion from the narrow body lumen.
At the time it acquired nVision, Boston Scientific touted the potential of the device acquisition. "We estimate the near-term market opportunity to be $500 million with the potential to grow to $2 billion as this device is used by more gynecologists to help even more women," Dave Pierce, executive vice president and president, MedSurg, Boston Scientific, said in April 2018.
BioCardia's focus is cardiovascular health, the suit said, and the company has never had a women's health product or plans to enter into that field, Boston Scientific said.