Reuters reported that Medtronic Inc. lost a patent case over heart stents against rivals Guidant Corp. and Boston Scientific Corp. on Wednesday, but the company said it would appeal the decision.  A Delaware District Court ruled that two of Medtronic’s stent devices used to treat clogged heart arteries infringed a patent held by rival Guidant, and that stents offered by Guidant and Boston Scientific did not infringe Medtronic’s Boneau patents.  Heart stents are tiny wire-mesh tubes that prop open clogged heart arteries that have been cleared surgically.

The federal court judge found that Medtronics S7 and Driver coronary stents infringed one claim of Guidant’s Lau patent.  Medtronic’s Driver stent is central to the company’s efforts to develop a more advanced drug-coated stent that helps keep arteries from re-closing.  A drug-coated version of the Driver is currently in clinical trials.  Guidant agreed last month to be bought by Johnson & Johnson, another maker of the heart devices, for $25.4 billion.  Currently, J&J and Boston Scientific are the only two companies to sell a drug-coated stent in the United States.

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