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School sues medical technology company in commercial litigation

Laws affecting business are generally designed to enhance economic activity within the applicable jurisdictions. This also includes laws pertaining to intellectual property rights in Michigan or in any other state. Intellectual property laws ensure that the creator of a novel business idea or technology will be able to bring the product or service to the market without worrying that somebody will steal the idea. However, disagreements over intellectual property rights can require commercial litigation in order to resolve conflicts.

Recently this is what happened with Varian Medical Systems Inc. which manufactures medical imaging equipment. The company ran into a dispute with a local university over patent rights involving some of the technology the company uses in its equipment. The university sued the company over the alleged patent violation in 2007.

In the first trial the court ruled against the company and ordered Varian to pay approximately $102 million in reimbursement to the university. The company appealed the initial ruling. However, despite the ruling issued recently by the appeals court, the two companies have reached a settlement agreement contingent on the court's ruling. The agreement stipulated that Varian will not be held liable for royalties related to selling Varian products which use the patent technology at issue.

This case shows the importance of fully understanding patent and copyright laws when doing business in Michigan or in any other state. Doing the proper research before incorporating any type of technology can help to avoid the need for commercial litigation in future legal conflicts. However, if a conflict does arise and is taken to court the party with the best legal argument will have the best chance of prevailing.

Source: Pittsburgh Business Times, "Pitt settles lawsuit with Varian for $35 million", Kris B. Mamula, April 11, 2014

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