AMI wins contrast patent judgment

May 5, 1993

A federal judge last month dismissed a patent lawsuit filed againstAdvanced Magnetics (AMI) by a former member of the company's scientificadvisory board. The suit involved patents for six of AMI's MRIcontrast agents. Dr. David D. Stark filed suit last

A federal judge last month dismissed a patent lawsuit filed againstAdvanced Magnetics (AMI) by a former member of the company's scientificadvisory board. The suit involved patents for six of AMI's MRIcontrast agents.

Dr. David D. Stark filed suit last September in U.S. DistrictCourt of Massachusetts, asking to be named on the AMI patentsas sole or joint inventor. Stark also charged the company withmisappropriation of trade secrets and breach of contract regardingthe patents and requested unspecified damages.

The suit stems from research Stark conducted on superparamagneticMRI contrast agents while working at Massachusetts General Hospitalin the 1980s. Stark was a consultant to AMI and served on thecompany's scientific advisory board during that time.

Federal court judge William G. Young ruled that Stark did notfile the patent-related claims in a timely fashion and dismissedthem. The judge also dismissed the non-patent claims, ruling thatthe federal court did not have jurisdiction and that they shouldbe decided in state court, according to Henry Dinger, Stark'sattorney. Some of the state law claims were dismissed becausethe statute of limitations on them had run out.

The first AMI patent was issued in 1988. Stark claimed thatthe company misled him regarding the true nature of the patentsand therefore he did not file his lawsuit until recently, accordingto Dinger.

"Judge Young did not decide whether or not Dr. Stark invented(the technology covered by the patents)," Dinger said. "Theonly thing he decided was that in his view Stark delayed too longbefore starting his action to correct what he said was incorrectdesignation on the patents."

Stark is considering an appeal of the ruling on the patentclaims, according to Dinger. Several of the non-patent claimsthat were not dismissed could be filed again in state court, Dingersaid.

AMI denies Stark's charges.

"He knew what we were doing in terms of patents,"said AMI president Jerome Goldstein. "He had an obligationto diligently assert his rights, and (the court saw) it took himthree or four years (to do so). They didn't consider that timely."

BRIEFLY NOTED:

  • Philips Medical Systems last month received Food and DrugAdministration marketing clearance for the company's first CTscanner with volumetric scanning capability. The new offering,SR 7000, features a 5 million HU tube as well as new computerprocessing capacity to handle volume scanning.

The SR 7000 can be purchased either as a new system or as anupgrade to the company's SR 6000 slip-ring scanner. The new tube'shigher heat capacity allows faster scanning with fewer delaysfor cooling.

"It really makes volume acquisitions more practical,"said Lonnie Weaver, director of CT marketing. "You can covera lot of distance with high resolution."

The SR 7000 with volumetric scanning will list for $1.35 million.It will cost $85,000 less without the volumetric feature. Upgradingthe SR 6000 to the 7000's level will cost $200,000, Weaver said.