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Appeals court upholds USPTO ruling, says Zap did not infringe on Elekta's patents

por John R. Fischer, Senior Reporter | October 02, 2023
Business Affairs
ZAP-X Gyroscopic Radiosurgery treatment suite
The U.S. Federal Court of Appeals has dismissed Elekta’s patent litigation suit against Zap Surgical, upholding the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) ruling that the company’s original patent claims were invalid.

In Elekta Limited and Elekta Inc. v. ZAP Surgical Systems, Inc., which Elekta filed in 2019, the company said that the design of the Zap-X Gyroscopic Radiosurgery Platform violated its patent for a rotatable treatment system that was never released to the market and sought monetary damages with a threefold enhancement for willful infringement, as well as an injunction that prohibits the importation, manufacturing, use, and sale of the ZAP-X.

In its final judgment, on September 21, the U.S. Federal Court of Appeals said that Elekta’s arguments were unpersuasive, leading it to agree with the USPTO, which said in April 2021 that the claims made in patent number 7,296,648 were unpatentable due to "obviousness."

The ruling follows a similar one earlier in September by the German Federal Patent Court in Munich, which declared Elekta's European patent 1 680 023 for the same technology to be invalid for the same reasons.

In a statement, Dr. John R. Adler Jr., Stanford professor of neurosurgery, and founder and chief executive officer of ZAP Surgical Systems, said that “frivolous patent lawsuits” like this “forestall” smaller competitors and harm global healthcare systems and patients in the long term.

“ZAP Surgical remains undeterred in its mission to improve the lives of patients through innovative and cost-saving medical technologies, redoubling efforts to provide the ZAP-X platform to medical professionals worldwide,” he said.

The ZAP-X Gyroscopic Radiosurgery platform was FDA-cleared in 2017, making it the first and only vault-free stereotactic radiosurgery delivery system. It is an alternative to invasive surgery that delivers high-dose radiation to brain tumors precisely while protecting normal brain tissue, eyes, and other organs.

With self-shielding technology, it requires no cement radiation vault to protect operators when in use, saving providers an estimated one to two million dollars. It also has a modern accelerator that eliminates the need for Cobalt-60 radioactive sources, doing away with costs to license, secure, and regularly replace live radioactive isotopes.

Patient treatments with the system began in 2019, and there have been more than 55 installations and orders since.

Elekta declined HCB News’ request to respond, saying it does not “comment on pending litigation.”

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