Judge issues initial determination that Elekta infringed Varian VMAT patents

November 01, 2016
by Gus Iversen, Editor in Chief
An administrative law judge with the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) has issued an initial determination in favor of Varian Medical Systems on its volumetric-modulated arc therapy (VMAT) patents in litigation with Elekta, according to a statement issued today by Varian.

The 465-page decision was reportedly issued on October 27 and found violations of Section 337 based on Elekta's importation and sale of radiotherapy systems using linear accelerator-based VMAT technology.

According to an Elekta statement, the judge dismissed other infringement claims from Varian on patents related to imaging enhanced radiotherapy and declared them not infringed by Elekta or invalid due to prior art incorporated in patents exclusively licensed by Elekta.

In June 2015, Elekta and William Beaumont Hospital in Michigan filed a lawsuit against Varian, alleging the U.S. rival had infringed patents owned by the hospital and that are licensed to Elekta.

That lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, stated that Varian’s TrueBeam linear accelerator infringes patents titled “Cone Beam Computed Tomography With A Flat Panel Imager” from William Beaumont Hospital — allegations that Varian said lacked merit.

In September 2015, Varian filed its own patent infringement lawsuit that has just received an initial determination. At that time, Elekta issued a statement indicating that Varian's litigation appeared to be part of its legal strategy against the charges already brought against it by Elekta and the Michigan-based hospital.

Today, Varian reported that the law judge recommended that the USITC issue cease and desist and limited exclusion orders preventing Elekta from selling and importing its radiotherapy systems with infringing VMAT capabilities into the U.S.

"We are pleased with the ITC ruling on the validity and infringement of Varian's VMAT patents," said John W. Kuo, Varian senior vice president and general counsel. "We see this as a victory for innovation and cutting edge cancer treatments that can benefit all patients. We look forward to the resolution of this litigation so that all parties can return all of their focus to the mission of developing and providing technology that will help to save the lives of cancer patients. Patient care is our first consideration, and it is important to note that this ruling will not interfere with any treatments, regardless of the equipment being used to deliver it."

In its statement, Varian described its patented VMAT inventions as "fundamentally advanced cancer treatment with linear accelerators that, for the first time, simultaneously modulates dose rate while shaping the beam and using progressive resolution to deliver arc-based radiotherapy with great precision and in dramatically less time."

The judge's rulings will be reviewed by the full six-member International Trade Commission, which is expected to issue a decision in February 2017.