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Spineology, Inc. v. Wright Medical Technology, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

July 25, 2017

Spineology, Inc., Plaintiff,
v.
Wright Medical Technology, Inc., Defendant.

          ORDER

          JOAN N. ERICKSEN United States District Judge

         Spineology, Inc., brought this action against Wright Medical Technology, Inc., for infringement of United States Reissued Patent No. RE42, 757 (filed May 7, 2004). Wright Medical Technology asserted counterclaims for declarations of noninfringement, absolute and equitable intervening rights, and invalidity. The case is before the Court on Spineology's Motion for Summary Judgment, Wright Medical Technology's Motion for Summary Judgment, and Wright Medical Technology's motions to exclude certain opinions of Spineology's experts. For the reasons set forth below, the Court grants Wright Medical Technology's Motion for Summary Judgment and denies the remaining motions.

         I. BACKGROUND

         The invention claimed in the '757 Patent “relates to an expandable reamer for use in surgery, particularly in orthopedic applications.” '757 Patent col. 1 ll. 25-26. “The invention provides a surgical tool . . . for forming hollow chambers within bone that are larger in diameter than the external opening into the chamber. The tool has a distal end with external dimensions sized to be passed through the patient's anatomy to a point of entry into the bone.” '757 Patent col.1 ll. 60-64. Retractable blades may “be extended to cut a cavity greater than the diameter of the surgical tool.” '757 Patent col. 1 ll. 64-67.

         The '757 Patent describes two preferred embodiments. Figures 1 and 2 of the '757 Patent, which appear below, depict one. It includes a hollow main shaft 136 that carries an elongated shaft 140 and blade guides 150 and 152. Blades 142 and 144 are mounted at the distal end of the elongated shaft. The main shaft is attached to a guide member that is inserted into an opening in a blade advancer barrel 138. The end of the guide member includes a threaded shaft 190 that is received within the barrel by a blade advancer knob 194. The guide member includes a pin 212. Observation of the pin within an opening 232 on the barrel's slide door 214 allows a user to track the degree of movement that the shaft makes as the knob is turned. Rotation of the knob causes the main shaft and blade guides to move inwardly or outwardly within the barrel. The

         (Image Omitted)

elongated shaft remains stationary. The blades move as their engagement members move within slots 158 on the blade guides. '757 Patent col. 2 1.48 to col. 3 1.61.

         Figures 10 and 11 of the '757 Patent display views of the reamer according to an alternative embodiment. “[A]n elongated tube and barrel 100 carry a long rod 92 that

         (Image Omitted)

attaches at the proximal end to a turn wheel 96 that moves the blades distally and proximally. The end of the long rod 92 is attached to two like blades by a pivot 118 that allows the blades 114 and 116 to change position.” '757 Patent col. 4 ll. 2-7. “The surgeon may visualize the degree the blades 114 and 116 extend by viewing the position of the shaft 92 relative to the barrel 102, through view port 107.” '757 Patent col. 6 ll. 49-51. Although figures 10 and 11, as well as figure 13, display the view port 107 on the barrel 102, the written description states that “[t]urn wheel 96 may include depth marking slot 107 which allows the user to see how far the blades have extended or retracted.” '757 Patent col. 4 ll. 57-59.

         The '757 Patent is a reissue of United States Patent No. 6, 383, 188 (filed Feb. 13, 2001). There were 14 claims in the '188 Patent. In May 2004, a reissue application was filed. In September 2011, the prosecution of the reissue application concluded with the issuance of the '757 Patent. Of the '188 Patent's 14 claims, only claim 13 remained in the '757 Patent. Claims 1-12 and 14 were canceled in the course of the prosecution of the reissue application. In addition to claim 13, the '757 Patent contains claims 15-43, which were added during the prosecution of the reissue application.

         Spineology asserted that Wright Medical Technology infringes independent claims 15, 33, and 35; claims 21-23, which depend on claim 15; and claim 34, which depends on claim 33. The accused product is Wright Medical Technology's X-Ream percutaneous expandable reamer. The asserted claims appear below. The Court previously determined that “activation mechanism” in claims 15 and 35 is indefinite.

         Claim 15

         An expandable reamer for use in bone and related tissue in a mammal comprising:

an elongated hollow body having a proximal end and a distal end, sized and configured to engage bone and related tissue in the mammal;
an elongated blade carrier having a proximal end and a distal end, the blade carrier disposed within the body;
a set of blades pivotally attached proximate the distal end of the blade carriers; the set of blades having at least a first retracted position relative to the body, the body having a maximum cross-sectional diameter transverse to a longitudinal axis of the body that is substantially at least as large as a maximum cross-sectional diameter of the blades in the first retracted position, and a second fully expanded position having a diameter greater than the maximum cross-sectional diameter of the body; and
an manually actuated activation mechanism that moves the set of blades from the first retracted position to the second fully expanded position and any expanded position therebetween.

         Clai ...


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