The University of California is suing two of the top medtech employers in Minnesota, St. Jude Medical and Boston Scientific, over allegations that the companies infringed upon a patented method in treating arrhythmia, or an abnormal heart rhythm.
 
University of California regents claim Dr. Michael Lesh, a professor at its San Francisco campus, received two patents (one in 2000 and one in 2003) for developing a circumferential conduction block, which is used to isolate electronic pulses from the pulmonary vein to the left atrium of the heart. The method is said to prevent atrial fibrillation, a life-threatening heart condition that affects as many as 6.1 million Americans.
 
According to suits filed in a San Francisco federal court last week, St. Jude and Boston Scientific are aware of Lesh’s patents, as both companies allegedly have cited Lesh’s method in art used in dozens of patent applications for its own products.
 
The University of California regents said they sent letters to St. Jude and Boston Scientific on February 1. Court documents state that Boston Scientific never responded to their letter, whereas St. Jude did on June 13 stating the regents “wrongfully asserted that it was not promoting any SJM devices for use in a manner that infringes the asserted patents.”
 
Little Canada-based St. Jude Medical made nearly $1.1 billion off its portfolio of atrial fibrillation products during its fiscal 2015 year. It employs about 3,000 people in Minnesota.
 
Marlborough, Massachusetts-based Boston Scientific reported nearly $2.2 billion in sales from its line of rhythm management products during its fiscal 2015 year. The company employs roughly 7,200 people in Minnesota.
 
The lawsuits against both companies state the university is seeking judgments of infringement, and an unspecified amount of money in the form of damages, enhanced damages, pre- and post-judgment interest, and legal costs.

Like what you just read? To receive business news directly in your inbox each Tuesday and Thursday, sign up for our free e-newsletter, Briefcase, and be sure to join the conversation by commenting below.