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Product infringement costs Zimmer Holdings Inc. $228 million

Product infringement can be costly as Zimmer Holdings Inc. is finding out. Both Zimmer Holdings Inc. and Stryker Corporation manufacture orthopedic surgical instruments, such as irrigation tools and suction tubes. In 2010, Stryker accused Zimmer of infringing on their patents with Zimmer's line of Pulsavac Plus lavage devices.

A jury found Zimmer guilty of such infringement in February and Stryker was awarded $70 million in damages for lost profits. The judge added that another $18 million in interest and other damages should be recovered. The total amount awarded came to more than $228 million.

Zimmer's actions in infringing on Stryker's patent were found to be willful by the jury. Testimony during the trial showed that Zimmer's design team was "all but instructed" to duplicate the products patented by Stryker.

The judge alleged that Zimmer's annual profit was well in access of the size of the verdict -- more than 10 times so -- and the $70 million award may do nothing to discourage future infringements. He also stated that Zimmer chose to compete aggressively and worry about the consequences later.

Efforts by Zimmer to have the award thrown out were to no avail. A Zimmer spokesperson, however, claims that Zimmer plans to appeal the decision. The spokesperson also alleges that the Pulsavac Plus line of products it currently sells have been changed and are "outside the scope" of the injunction.

Product competition is stiff between companies in today's market. If your business has been charged with unfair business practices, you will want to retain a good business litigation attorney to prepare a strong business liability defense on your behalf. The nature of commercial litigation can be complex and it takes an experienced and knowledgeable defense to protect your business and reputation.

Source:, "Judge orders Zimmer to pay Stryker $228 million in patent case" Jonathan Stempel, Aug. 08, 2013

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