Endotach Patent Claims Construed

Indianapolis, Ind. — The Southern District of Indiana has construed the claims of two patents-in-suit in the matter of Endotach LLC v. Cook Medical Inc.

In 2012, patent attorneys for Endotach LLC of Frisco, Texas sued Cook Medical Inc. of Bloomington, Ind., alleging infringement of Patent No. 5,122,154, entitled “Endovascular Bypass Graft,” and Patent No. 5,593,417, entitled “Intravascular Stent with Secure Mounting Means,” both issued by the U.S. Patent Office.  The suit, initially filed in the Northern District of Florida, was transferred to the Southern District of Indiana.

CookMedicalLogo.JPGThe patents, both of which were issued in the 1990s, were granted to Dr. Valentine Rhodes, an award-winning surgeon who practiced in the field of vascular medicine for over 30 years.  The patents are directed to intraluminal and endovascular grafts for placement within a blood vessel, duct or lumen to hold it open.  As it pertains to this lawsuit, the patents-in-suit are used for revascularization of aneurysms or stenosis occurring in blood vessels which includes anchoring projections to aid in securing the graft in place within the blood vessel.

Upon the death of Dr. Rhodes, the patents-in-suit passed as part of his estate to his wife, Brenda Rhodes.  While Mrs. Rhodes remains the owner of the patents, Endotach is the exclusive licensee and has the right to enforce the patents against all infringers. 

In its complaint, Endotach asserted infringement of one or more claims in each of the patents-in-suit.  It sought a judgment that the patents-in-suit have been infringed, either literally and/or under the doctrine of equivalents; damages, including treble damages; costs; interest; attorneys’ fees and an injunction. 

In its opinion, the court construed multiple terms:

·         The term “stent means” was construed to mean “a generally ring-like, hollow support that is resistant to contraction back to a compact state once it has been expanded”

·         The term “resistant to contraction back” was construed to mean “able to withstand the force or effect of”

·         The term “tubular member” was construed to mean “tubular member”

·         The term “anchoring means” was construed to mean “multiple projections or protuberances with a leading portion and a trailing portion, such that one surface of the trailing portion is positioned at an acute angle relative to the direction of fluid flow”

·         The term “projections” was construed to mean “protuberances or parts that extend outward from a surface”

·         The term “a leading portion” was construed to mean “part of a projection oriented in the upstream direction of the fluid flow”

·         The term “a trailing portion” was construed to mean “part of a projection oriented in the downstream direction of the fluid flow, with at least one portion positioned at an acute angle to the fluid flow”

·         The term “at least one surface” was construed to mean “one portion, part or surface of the trailing portion of a projection oriented at an acute angle to the fluid flow”

·         The terms “engagement with” and “engaging” were construed to mean “to partly embed, interlock or enmesh”

·         The term “tightly” was construed to mean “firmly”

·         The term “stent” was construed to mean “a hollow support”

Practice Tip: When construing the terms in the asserted claims of a patent-in-suit, the court must determine the meaning of the language used before it can ascertain the scope of the claims that the plaintiff asserts are infringed.  In doing so, the court’s interpretive focus is not the subjective intent of the party employing a certain term, but the objective test of what one of ordinary skill in the art at the time of the invention would have understood the term to mean.

This case was assigned to Senior Judge Larry J. McKinney, Southern District of Indiana, and assigned Case No. 1:12-cv-01630-LJM-DKL

Order on Claim Construction – Endotach v Cook Medical

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