Federal appeals court overturns decision in liner suit

The Federal Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled in favor of Ohio WillowWood Co. by reversing a November 2013 judgment that prevented the company from manufacturing or selling a line of prosthetic gel liners.

 The 2013 ruling favored Alps South LLC, who filed a patent infringement suit against WillowWood in 2008. The case now will return to district court with instructions to dismiss the action, according to a WillowWood press release. The patent involved in the origianl litigation expired in 2014.

“We are very pleased with the outcome of this appeal,” Ryan Arbogast, WillowWood president, stated in the release. “We are currently reviewing the ruling thoroughly with our legal counsel to fully understand the outcomes of the appeal. However, want to thank both our customers for their wonderful loyalty and support and our team for their extraordinary efforts during the past year.”

WillowWood had filed an unsuccessful motion to dismiss Alps’ suit contending that Alps lacked standing to sue under the Patent Act. The new ruling states Federal Circuit Court judges have determined “the district court erred when it denied [WillowWoods]’ motion to dismiss for lack of standing.”

In response to an inquiry from O&P News, Alps released the following statement through its general counsel Ron Christaldi, JD, MA, an attorney with Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick LLP: “We are extremely disappointed in this opinion. While we respect the Federal Circuit and its decision, Alps will be exploring all options to continue to protect its patent rights. The District Court, after a jury trial, found Ohio WillowWood to be willfully infringing Alps’ patents, and later in contempt of the District Court’s orders. This Federal Circuit opinion is not on the merits of Ohio WillowWood’s infringement, but rather relates to a technicality as to the necessity and timing of joining the individual inventor of the patented technology to the suit. The appeal decision is without prejudice to continue to pursue Alps’ claims against [WillowWood] and Alps intends to continue to protect its patent rights.”



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