Imagine the reaction of attorney Alan G. Carlson’s clients when they saw a public television program about aortal stent technology used by giant Cordis Corp, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson Corporation that featured a machine that seemed to be the same as they had invented. The machine in question made stents, medical devices used to unclog human arteries.
Principals of Spectralytics Inc., a closely-held business based in Dassel, Minn., had been contacted a few years earlier by Cordis’ supplier, Norman Noble Inc., expressing an interest in acquiring Spectralytics’ business. But the discussions went nowhere, only to now discover that Norman Noble seemed to be using the technology it learned from Spectralytics.
Spectralytics contacted Carlson’s firm.
“We wrote and engaged them in discussions, and throughout they never denied that they were using our technology,” says Carlson.
Spectralytics sued Cordis and Noble in Minnesota for patent infringement in 2005. The defendants then denied any infringement, and challenged the validity of Spectralytics’ 1998 patent.
With Carlson serving as lead counsel, ultimately the jury returned a $22.2 million verdict last February after a three-week jury trial. Carlson credits “my exceptional trial team of Matthew J. Goggin, Dennis C. Bremer and Russ J. Rigby.” With pre-judgment interest, the judgment is in excess of $30 million, he adds.
The Minneapolis federal district court denied all of defendants’ motions after verdict, and now the case is on appeal before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. It’s in the briefing stage, and focuses on the facts rather than law: denying the validity of the patent and that an infringement took place, and challenging the appropriateness of the damages.
Spectralytics isn’t the largest verdict of Carlson’s career. In fact, in 2008 a jury in Minneapolis returned a $24.2 million verdict, in Anchor Wall Systems Inc. v. Rockwall Retaining Wall Systems Inc, et al. Over his 39 years as a patent litigator, he has secured 10 multi-million dollar verdicts.
He’s very proud of having helped so many clients in their high-stakes matters. But he’s especially proud of the team he has built at Carlson, Caspers, Vandenburgh & Lindquist — a patent litigation boutique firm he started in 2003 with six other lawyers, which has grown to 26 lawyers in just seven years.
– Jane Pribek