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Stryker/Zimmer Biomet Patent Fight Ends in New Judicial Standard

Walter Eisner • Mon, July 17th, 2017

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The patent fight between Stryker Corporation and Zimmer Biomet Holdings, Inc. over a surgical cleaning device seems to have finally reached a conclusion on July 12, 2017 as Robert Jonker, a U.S. federal judge in Michigan awarded Stryker $248.7 million.

This case established a new standard by the U.S. Supreme Court over the discretion allowed to district judges in determining patent infringement damages.

The case started in 2010 when Stryker sued, claiming Zimmer's Pulsavac Plus device for cleaning orthopedic wounds violated three of their patents.

A federal jury sided with Stryker and awarded the company $70 million in 2013, finding Zimmer's conduct to have been "willful." A few months later, Judge Jonker tripled the damages based on the "flagrancy and scope of Zimmer's infringement."

Zimmer appealed to the U.S. Federal Circuit Court of Appeals. That court upheld the jury award, but reversed Judge Jonker's "willfulness" finding and reinstated the original damages. Stryker then took the case to the U.S. Supreme Court. In June 2016, the Supreme Court said the test for determining willful infringement was too rigid and allowed some "egregious infringers" to get away.

They sent the case back to the lower courts with the new standard.

In his July 12 decision, Jonker reaffirmed his original award of enhanced damages and attorneys' fees.

"In simplest terms, the Court believes that its and the jury's original fact findings against Zimmer, coupled with multiple legal changes that actually make it easier to enhance damages and make exceptional case findings, fully support the Court's original awards in the case," wrote Jonker.

The case is Stryker Corp, et al, v. Zimmer Inc, et al, U.S. District Court, Western District of Michigan, No. 10-cv-1223.

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