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Diabetes: Medtronic sues Insulet over OmniPod device

Discussion in 'Insulin Pumps' started by Ellen, Oct 9, 2012.

  1. Ellen

    Ellen Senior Member

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    https://www.massdevice.com/news/diabetes-medtronic-sues-insulet-over-omnipod-device

    Diabetes: Medtronic sues Insulet over OmniPod device

    October 9, 2012 by MassDevice staff

    Medtronic sues Insulet for allegedly infringing a pair of its patents with Insulet's OmniPod insulin management system for diabetes.



    Medtronic's (NYSE:MDT) MiniMed subsidiary sued Insulet (NSDQ:pODD) for patent infringement, alleging that Insulet's OmniPod insulin management system infringes a pair of MiniMed patents.

    The lawsuit, filed Sept. 18 in the U.S. District Court for Central California, alleges that Bedford, Mass.-based Insulet's OmniPod, a wireless insulin delivery system for diabetes, trespasses on a pair of patents that are licensed to Medtronic MiniMed. Both the so-called "'276 patent" and the "'878 patent" are called "External Infusion Device With Remote Programming, Bolus Estimator And/Or Vibration Alarm Capabilities."

    Fridley, Minn.-based Medtronic claims that Insulet has known about the alleged infringement of the first patent "since at least April 27, 2005, when Insulet filed a patent application with the United States Patent Office ... which referenced the '276 patent. In addition, in 2007, Medtronic sent Insulet' s then President and CEO, Mr. Duane DeSisto, a letter advising Insulet of the '276 patent," according to court documents.

    Insulet was allegedly made aware of the '878 patent "at least as early as a 2007 letter from Medtronic to Insulet's then-president and CEO, Mr. Duane DeSisto," according to court documents.

    Medtronic MiniMed is seeking a jury trial, judgments of infringement and willful infringement (the latter would treble any damages awarded), injunctions barring further infringement, damages and legal fees.
     
  2. Ellen

    Ellen Senior Member

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  3. swellman

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    Very interesting timing ... the just got around to it?
     
  4. hawkeyegirl

    hawkeyegirl Approved members

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    I find it unsurprising that the largest medical device maker in the U.S. has previously filed 29 patent infringement lawsuits.

    What is interesting to me is why they waited so long to file suit on this, though. I may see if I can find the pleadings online and read them.
     
  5. sarahspins

    sarahspins Approved members

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    I agree, I find it odd as well... unless the charges in the suit related directly to the newest generation of PDM and pods... but even that is a stretch, because I don't think omnipod really made any significant changes.
     
  6. Rachel's Dad

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    Typical Medtronic....losing market share to Omnipod and having no viable tubeless pump themselves so go with litigation. The approach worked great with Smith's Cosmo.
     
  7. Ellen

    Ellen Senior Member

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  8. hawkeyegirl

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    I always wonder what people think Medtronic SHOULD do when they believe that a competitor has infringed one of their patents? Just shrug their shoulders and say, "Oh, we spent millions on R&D to come up with that, but Smiths Medical seems like such a NICE company. We'll just let them use it." I mean, really. I'd further note that my impression has always been that Cozmo didn't make it because they didn't sell enough pumps. If the fact that they infringed on MM's patents was the nail in the coffin, that was their fault, frankly.

    I read the Complaint against Animas, and skimmed the patents, and it appears that the lawsuit against both Animas and Insulet revolve around the remote control. I have zero opinion on whether they infringed MM's patents or not. I used to do IP litigation, but do not have the scientific background to make the judgment call with respect to infringement. I also cannot tell why MM waited so long to file their lawsuits. Certainly, it will take a long time to work its way through the system.
     
  9. Flutterby

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    I don't think this has anything to do with loosing their share. They are the largest pump manufacture, they carry the largest share of pumpers. Like Karla said, what SHOULD they do? A patent is protected. ANYONE that carries a patent on any product/design would do the same thing.
     
  10. Ellen

    Ellen Senior Member

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    Of course they should defend their IP, that's the purpose of filing for patent protection. The question is do they want to put the competitor out of business, or do they want to license their technology? Medtronic has deep pockets and can choose what they want to do. It remains to be seen if the competitors are actually infringing.
     
  11. hawkeyegirl

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    Well, they licensed their technology to Cozmo, so it does not appear they are opposed to doing that sort of thing. Obviously no one is going to pay them a licensing fee if they don't think they're infringing on the patents. It's not like Insulet or Animas came to MM before they released their products and said, "Hey, MM, can we use your technology?" They obviously don't think they're using MM's patented technology, MM does, and therefore there are lawsuits.

    I still don't get why you appear to think MM is the bad guy here.
     
  12. MHoskins2179

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    I certainly get the business aspect of protecting your IP, and agree that's what caselaw has done (debatable, to some) through the years in balancing that protection with the short-term need for openness. But at some point, I wonder if this doesn't work as it's designed. It's like filing a patent on something unique in 1999, but then it becomes so standard an idea (expected, really) a decade later that it shouldn't be monopolized and kept internally within one company anymore.

    I mean, there's a term limit on patents of 20 years... but especially in this day and age when technology is moving so quickly, I wonder if that's an obsolete timeframe.

    When do we, as patients, get hurt by this patent system and does that ever outweigh? Obviously an issue of the litigation...

    And this philosophical debate goes way beyond Medtronic and any specific company or industry and is something the lawmakers would need to address.
     
  13. hawkeyegirl

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    Well, you can't patent an idea. So, for example, a remote control for a pump isn't patentable. A specific design for the remote is patentable. A specific process for programming the remote is patentable. But the general concept? No. So it's not like MM would get a monopoly on remotes for insulin pumps, even if they prevailed in their lawsuit(s).

    I guess I don't have much of an opinion as to whether the length of patent protection should be shorter. Certainly, you want to encourage innovation, which I think the current system does in two ways: (1) it rewards innovative ideas by giving their creator a long period of exclusive use; and (2) since other companies can't just "borrow" what has already been patented, it gives them incentive to come up with their own patentable ideas.

    But truly, I am no expert on the matter.
     
  14. garidan

    garidan New Member

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    Found original docs

    I have found the complaint of medtronic vs insulet (link)

    The 878 patent (link)

    The 276 patent (link)


    I think this are stupid patents, expecially because they date back at 1998 and till today medtronic has not manifactured ever a remote like that.
     
  15. Mish

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    I think what bothers people is that Medtronic is claiming that "bolus calculations wizards" are a thing they patented. That was and is why animas still has the 'dial up' feature of bolusing. It was how they've avoided their lawsuits with MM.

    The thing is that it seems to be only partially what this lawsuit is about. If I read it correctly the are two patents; "878" and "276" deals with the bolus issue that I mention above, but also with the remote. If I read it correctly that is what the lawsuit is about. From what I remember about the cozmo lawsuits is that basically no one in the country can make a pump without going through minimed because minimed claims patent on the technology to create the bolus wizard and spit out a bolus calculation(which is silly since we all do the same calculations daily). They're also claiming that the whole remote function was theirs as well (cause we know just how well that Minimed remote thing works for them..right?) But, companies are forced to go through minimed and then minimed further prevents them from selling or marketing their pumps unless they go through minimed to do so.

    The dates of the patents are unusual in that omnipod predates them, omnipod was being delivered line late 2006 so it must predate the 2003 patent.

    I think what it all comes down to though is that none of these companies really believe that their technology is ripping off minimed. And in most cases (other than the J&J / Animas) these companies have very little money in the way to defend themselves against a giant like minimed. So I'm going to wait and see what happens with Animas as that outcome might be very different.

    (edit, I missread, there as no agreement with omnipod)
     
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2012
  16. hawkeyegirl

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    I don't understand why this bothers people. The Bolus Wizard HAS been patented. That was definitively determined in the Medtronic/Cozmo litigation.

    I don't ever recall seeing anything to lead me to believe that Insulet has licensed technology from Medtronic. I could be wrong, but I've never, ever heard or read that. I think Insulet has figured out a different process from Medtronic so that the "dial up" is not necessary, and yet their process does not infringe on Medtronic's patent(s). It is the same with the Accu-Chek pumps and the new T-Slim, so it is apparently quite possible to have a pump with a bolus calculator (and without the dial up) that does not infringe on MM's patent(s).

    My impression from the current complaints against Insulet and Animas is that the technology at issue now is the remote dosing technology. Again, I have NO knowledge to say whether I think there is infringement or not. I'm just annoyed by the tone of this thread being, "Oh, Medtronic is so MEAN, suing companies AGAIN." Please. These are corporations with duties to shareholders. I could actually see people being more pissed if Medtronic had sued Cozmo and lost, but they won! A (presumably neutral) factfinder found that Cozmo infringed MM's patent. ETA: Oops! I see now that Smiths actually settled with MM. I was wrong about that. Sorry! But I truly don't think it is fair to blame MM when they're just doing what they have a duty to do: protect their IP.

    Well, of course none of these other companies think that they are ripping off Medtronic. ;) But the point is that, in Cozmo's case, they were apparently wrong. I feel bad for Cozmo users that their pump company went out of business, but really, what was Medtronic to do? They could have flat-out told Cozmo that they could not continue to sell pumps using the infringing technology. But they instead chose to license it to them, giving Cozmo the opportunity at least to stay in business. I am pissed at Medtronic in about 42 different ways, but the anger at them for defending their intellectual property is completely misplaced. They are a business, not a charity, and if a competitor is infringing their IP, yep, they're going to sue them, even if their competitor is a relative "little guy." (I also suspect that no one is cheering for "little guy" Medtronic (relatively speaking) in their lawsuit against Animas.) When both litigants are large corporations, the relative size of the company will have little effect on the outcome of the litigation.

    It's not easy to get a patent. There are many requirements, and you can't just come up with something totally obvious, grab a patent, and then prevent anyone else from using your completely generic, obvious idea. Medtronic's Bolus Wizard patent is much narrower than most people would believe.
     
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2012
  17. Mish

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    I edited my original post, I read it a bit wrong.

    and, no, I don't think that there is anything 'wrong' with what minimed is doing. They're doing what they're legally allowed to do. At least I have no issue with it in that regard. But I also am not so naive to believe that this isn't a move to acquire these companies, their products, or shut them down. It's all business.

    But if minimed's patent was so darn amazingly viable for a remote control pump feature then why haven't they developed their own? That's why I think many of these companies believe that their technology is vastly different.
     
  18. hawkeyegirl

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    Well, they do have a remote control. It's not pretty, but I believe it was the first one out there. From memory, I believe both the Animas and the Insulet patents for their remote controls reference the Medtronic patents, which is what should be done when you are building on what the IP people refer to as "prior art." What it comes down to is whether or not your new patent is sufficiently novel and not merely derivative of the prior art. That initial determination is made by the Patent and Trademark Office, and since Animas and Insulet both had their patents issued, the PTO obviously decided that they were patentable. Medtronic's remedy, since they apparently disagree with respect to infringement is to sue in Federal Court, which is what they have done.

    The fact that MM's remote doesn't look anything like Animas' or Insulet's isn't really a factor. There much be something about the process that Animas and Insulet are using that is similar enough that MM thinks there is infringement. Unless there is a settlement (unlikely), I'd guess we are looking at 3-4 years until we see how it all turns out.
     
  19. kiwikid

    kiwikid Approved members

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    the new Animas does NOT have a 'dial up' feature - we jump straight to the recommended dose now. How they have done this ? patented their own feature? It makes the Animas pump much more user friendly.
     
  20. Mish

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    oh, well that is interesting. I wonder.
     

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