Axonics, Inc. v. Medtronics, Inc., No. 22-1451 (Fed. Cir. 2023)Annotate this Case
The Medtronic patents describe and claim a neurostimulation lead and a method for implanting and anchoring the lead. Axonics, having been sued by Medtronic for infringement, challenged various claims of the Medtronic patents for obviousness in inter partes reviews (IPRs) under 35 U.S.C. 311–319. In both IPRs, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board concluded that Axonics had failed to prove any of the challenged claims unpatentable.
The Federal Circuit vacated and remanded, The Board erred in its obviousness analysis and the errors cannot be regarded as harmless. Even if the Board was correct to treat the Medtronic patents as limited in the problem they address to the sacral-nerve context, it committed a fundamental legal error in confining the motivation inquiry to whether a motivation would exist to make the proposed combination for use in the specific trigeminal-nerve context—to which the Medtronic patents are not limited. The Board was also incorrect in its view that “the relevant art is medical leads specifically for sacral neuromodulation,” as the Medtronic patents’ claims are not limited to the sacral-nerve context; the shared specification, properly read, is not so limited either.