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Supreme Court agrees to hear Medtronic patent case

By Lawrence Hurley

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday agreed to hear a patent dispute concerning Medtronic Inc over medical devices it manufactures that give the heart electrical jolts when it fails to pump blood properly.

Medtronic wants the Supreme Court to reverse an appeals court finding that it had the burden of showing that it was not infringing on patents owned by Mirowski Family Ventures LLC and licensed exclusively to Boston Scientific Corp.

The legal battle concerns devices, called cardiac resynchronization therapy, or CRT, which monitors the heart to ensure that the left and right ventricles contract at the same time. If they do not, electrical shocks restore a correct rhythm.

The companies have an agreement in which Medtronic licensed the patents in question and agreed to pay royalties on new products if they were found to be using the patents.

In 2007, Mirowski Family Ventures claimed Medtronic was developing new products that would justify royalty payments. Medtronic filed suit, seeking an adjudication that it did not need to pay.

A court in Delaware said Medtronic was not infringing on the patents, but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit threw out that ruling.

Oral arguments and a ruling are expected in the court's next term, which starts in October and ends in June 2014.

The case is Medtronic v Boston Scientific Corp, U.S. Supreme Court, No. 12-1128.

(Reporting by Lawrence Hurley; Editing by Howard Goller, Gerald E. McCormick and Maureen Bavdek)

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