- Two recent federal appeals court rulings upheld that some of Boston Scientific's neuromodulation patents were invalid, as part of ongoing litigation between the medtech giant and Nevro over their respective spinal cord stimulation devices.
- A panel of judges in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled on Friday that Boston Scientific's patent for a spinal cord stimulation implant was invalid, upholding a previous decision by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board. Earlier this month, a separate group of judges made a similar ruling related to a different Boston Scientific patent, for telemetry systems and methods of communicating with an implantable stimulator.
- The rulings notch two victories for Nevro, which has been embroiled in patent litigation with Boston Scientific in recent years. Boston Scientific and Nevro both declined to comment on the rulings. However, Nevro's attorneys said in a statement that it had been the fifth appeal between Nevro and Boston Scientific, and the fifth straight win for Nevro before the Federal Circuit.
Boston Scientific had appealed the case for the patent, officially called U.S. Patent No. 6,381,496, saying the patent board had misconstrued a term related to the operational parameters for its device. However, a panel of three judges didn't buy into the company's arguments, maintaining that the patent was invalid.
Although Nevro didn't comment on the ruling, the company's attorney, Sterne, Kessler, Goldstein & Fox Director Jon Wright, stated that "Nevro is pleased with the court's judgment."
The patent in question, related to a spinal cord stimulation device to treat chronic pain, was one of several that Boston Scientific had brought against Nevro in a recent round of litigation. In return, Nevro had challenged seven of Boston Scientific's patents with the Patent Trial and Appeal Board, constituting 92 claims.
Boston Scientific abandoned 38 of the challenged claims, and the patent board invalidated 52 of the remaining claims, according to Wright. Boston Scientific declined to comment on the court's ruling.
In a separate decision on March 10, a federal appeals court upheld a prior ruling that three of five of Boston Scientific's patent claims were invalid, related to the company's patent for methods of communicating with an implantable stimulator.
Amid the thicket of patent cases, the two companies also agreed to drop one lawsuit in 2020 related to a high-frequency spinal cord stimulation therapy system, since Boston Scientific doesn't currently have plans to launch one in the U.S.
Nevro faces large competitors in Boston Scientific, Abbott Laboratories and Medtronic, as it primarily makes spinal cord stimulation devices for chronic pain and diabetic neuropathy. That will only intensify as competitors seek new indications for their devices.
In late January, Medtronic received an earlier-than-expected FDA clearance for its spinal cord stimulation therapy to treat pain from diabetic neuropathy, sending Nevro's stock spiraling.