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Appellate Court reverses jury verdict - rules competitors did not infringe on patents owned by Augustine Medical.

The Federal Circuit Court of Appeals has overturned a 1997 federal district court jury decision that Mallinckrodt Medical, Inc. (St. Louis, MO) and Gaymar Industries, Inc. Orchard Park, NY), infringed three patents covering Augustine Medical's (Minneapolis, MN; 612-947-1214) Bair Hugger brand convective warming blankets.

A federal court jury in Minneapolis had determined in August 1997 that all blankets named in the lawsuits against Mallinckrodt and Gaymar infringed Augustine Medical's patents. On June 8, the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the jury's decision.

"Obviously, we are disappointed with the appellate court's decision," said Scott Augustine, MD, chairman and founder of Augustine Medical and inventor of the Bair Hugger line of temperature management products. "However, this was one round in a long fight. We have other patents that are not affected by this decision. We will enforce them.

"This does not substantially change our company's strategy. There is overwhelming proof that using forced air warming before, during and after surgery prevents postoperative complications such as cardiac problems and infections, shortens hospital stays and lowers health care costs. In the future, we will see forced air warming used in more types of surgeries, in both inpatient and outpatient settings."

The decision does not change Augustine Medical's commitment to its product line. "As the pioneer of forced air temperature management, we have the responsibility to aggressively protect our technology," Dr. Augustine said.

"Despite the outcome of this appeal, we will continue to defend our intellectual property against imitation."

In April 1998, Augustine Medical initiated patent infringement litigation against 10 other defendants in Federal District Court in Minneapolis. The company expects that this suit, which had been stayed pending the appellate court decision, will now move forward.

Augustine Medical, a privately-held medical device company, develops products that provide innovative, practical solutions to common medical problems. The company, founded in 1987, pioneered the concept of perioperative temperature management with its Total Temperature Management system, which includes forced air warming units, fluid warming systems and blankets sold under the well-known brand name Bair Hugger. Based on documented improvements in clinical outcomes, Bair Hugger therapy has become the standard of care for preventing hypothermia in surgical patients. Augustine Medical also markets Warm-Up active wound therapy, the only noncontact thermal wound care system available today. Augustine Medical's fiscal year 1999 net sales reached a record high of $46 million.

Bair Hugger, Total Temperature Management and Warm-Up are registered trademarks of Augustine Medical.
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Comment:Appellate Court reverses jury verdict - rules competitors did not infringe on patents owned by Augustine Medical.
Publication:BIOTECH Patent News
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 1, 1999
Words:404
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