Saturday, September 30, 2023
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Judge Won’t Nix Suit Over Cancer Treatment Patent

PHILADELPHIA (CN) - A patent suit over CyberKnife, the radiation-treatment system for cancer patients, was pared down Wednesday by a federal judge, who dismissed the vast majority of infringement claims and all of the individual defendants.

U.S. District Judge Terrence McVerry dismissed 11 of Best Medical International's 13 causes of action, and left the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Accuray as the lone defendant facing two counts of direct infringement on Best Medical's patented methods of applying a modulated radiation beam to a tumor.

In its amended complaint, the Springfield, Va.-based Best Medical claimed that some of its former employees used stolen materials to help Accuray design the CyberKnife VSI System. Those four individuals, whom Judge McVerry dismissed as defendants Wednesday, allegedly signed on to work for Accuray after inducing the company into selling the so-called infringing product.

But the judge said Best Medical ignored his warnings and failed to substantiate those claims. "Rather, the amended complaint contains only generic, conclusory references to all of the individual defendants as a group," McVerry wrote.

"In sum, the amended complaint fails to give each Individual Defendant notice of the misconduct with which each is charged and fails to enable the court to evaluate the patent claims against each person," he continued.

Since patent information is inherently public, the court also dismissed Best Medical's claim that alleged disclosure of confidential information and trade secrets constitutes direct patent infringement.

"The only conduct of the individual defendants pleaded in the amended complaint is that they allegedly downloaded from BMI's computers confidential, trade secret information which described the patented processes and then offered those materials to Accuray in exchange for employment," McVerry wrote. "In other words, the individual defendants are not alleged to have sold an actual device or product, but rather, only information that described a patented product. The court concludes that such conduct does not constitute direct patent infringement under the facts and circumstances as alleged in the amended complaint."

The defendants had requested sanctions, contending that Best Medical International was pursuing baseless claims against the individuals.

McVerry denied that request because he found that the allegations were not frivolous and simply sought to establish new law concerning paten-infringement claims.

Accuray must file an answer to the two remaining counts by March 21. McVerry also noted that the parties are engaged in a separate lawsuit over Best Medical's trade-secret claims.

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