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EPO Boards of Appeal revoke Edwards Lifesciences’ heart-valve patent

Post Time:2023-12-07 Source:juve-patent Author:Konstanze Richter Views:

Edwards Lifesciences and Meril have been fighting over heart-valve technology for years. Now the EPO has finally destroyed one of Edwards' patents. The parallel infringement proceedings at the Munich Regional Court will therefore likely be discontinued.

The dispute concerns Edwards Lifesciences’ EP 3 583 920, which protects a prosthetic valve frame. The Examining Division of the EPO granted the patent in 2020.

In spring 2021, the Indian medical device manufacturer Meril, its German subsidiary and the Danish company Mermaid Medical filed an opposition against the grant. In a first-instance decision, the Opposition Division upheld the patent in amended form. The opponents appealed against this decision.

At the same time, Edwards Lifesciences filed an infringement action relating to EP 920 at the Regional Court in Munich. As a date for oral proceedings was set for February 2024, the court asked the EPO to expedite the appeal proceedings. Now the Boards of Appeal have revoked the patent due to added matter. During the oral hearing, the question of inventive step was also discussed.

Pan-European battle

EP 920 is one of several patents protecting various parts of Edward Lifesciences’ prosthetic heart-valve technology. The US medical device manufacturer has been in dispute with its Indian competitor Meril for years. While in an initial series of lawsuits the US company attacked Meril’s MyVal product line, the current dispute revolves around Meril’s new generation of transcatheter heart valve called Octacore. Some of these proceedings are pending at the UPC.

Two proceedings between Meril and Edwards over EP 3 646 825 (case IDs: ACT_551308/2023 and App_572915/2023) are currently pending at the local division in Munich, with two UPC infringement proceedings also pending at the Stockholm-based Nordic-Baltic division over EP 2 628 464 (case ID: ACT_459769/2023). The case concerns a system comprising a prosthetic valve and a delivery catheter.

Several heart-valve patents at the UPC

Meril’s Italian subsidiary filed a revocation action against Edwards Lifesciences’ EP 3 646 825 before the Paris central division, which the court only recently declared admissible.

At the same time, numerous disputes are ongoing at national courts. In August, the latest decision between Meril and Edwards saw the District Court of The Hague find in favour of Meril. The court rejected the Edwards’ infringement claims and revoked the Dutch part of its patent EP 3 494 930, for a ‘leaflet attachment frame for a prosthetic valve’ (case ID: C/09/630115 HA ZA 22-460), due to lack of novelty. Edwards had sought an injunction.