St. Jude Med., Inc. v. Access Closure, Inc., No. 12-1452 (Fed. Cir. 2013)Annotate this Case
The patents at issue relate to methods and devices for sealing a vascular puncture, which occurs when a medical procedure requires a puncture through the skin and into a vein or artery to insert a medical device, such as a catheter, into a patient’s vasculature. After such a procedure, the medical professional typically removes the medical device from the vasculature. Prior to development of the technology at issue, the medical professional was then required to apply external pressure to the puncture site until clotting occurred, sometimes for an extended period of time. This caused discomfort and increased the recovery time. The Janzen and Fowler patents disclose methods and devices for sealing a vascular puncture to improve patient recovery. The district court held that the safe-harbor provision of 35 U.S.C. 121 protects the Janzen patent from invalidity due to double-patenting; construed key terms in the Janzen patent; and found that the Fowler patents were not invalid for obviousness. The Federal Circuit reversed the safe harbor ruling, which rendered the rulings regarding the claim constructions moot, and affirmed that the Fowler patents are nonobvious and not shown to be invalid.