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Supreme Court refuses to hear Saffran v Johnson & Johnson appeal

The US Supreme Court refused on Monday to hear an appeal from a doctor asking it to reinstate a $482 million patent infringement award against Johnson & Johnson subsidiary Cordis

The court declined to hear Saffran v Johnson & Johnson, in which radiologist Bruce Saffran claimed Cordis infringed a patent he obtained in 1997 in making its Cypher brand of drug-eluting stents, tiny mesh tubes used to prop open weak or narrow arteries.

A district court jury previously found that Cordis violate the patent. But a split Federal Circuit panel did not defer to the district court’s claim construction. The Federal Circuit changed the claim construction and overturned the district court’s finding that Cordis infringed the patent.

Saffran asked the appeals court to put his case on hold and reconsider it alongside Lighting Ballast v Philips, which concerns similar issues about the deference the Federal Circuit should give to a district court’s claim construction. But the Federal Circuit refused.

The Supreme Court’s refusal to accept the case means that Federal Circuit’s decision will stand.

The Supreme Court did not decide whether to accept the WildTangentvUltramercial case on Monday, instead electing to put the question of whether to hear it on hold. If the court chooses to accept that case, it will consider when a patent’s reference to a computer or the Internet is sufficient to make an otherwise unpatentable abstract idea eligible for patent protection.

The court may be waiting to decide whether to accept certiorari of WildTangentvUltramercial until it has resolved Alice v CLS Bank, which concerns similar issues and which the Supreme Court agreed to hear in December. Arguments in that case will take place on March 31 and a decision is expected by the end of June 2014.

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