This excerpt taken from the BSX 10-K filed Mar 1, 2006.
We may not be able effectively to protect our intellectual property rights which could have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations.
The interventional medicine market in which we primarily participate is in large part technology driven. Physician customers, particularly in interventional cardiology, move quickly to new products and new technologies. As a result, intellectual property rights, particularly patents and trade secrets, play a significant role in product development and differentiation. However, intellectual property litigation to defend or create market advantage is inherently complex and unpredictable. Furthermore, appellate courts frequently overturn lower court patent decisions.
In addition, competing parties frequently file multiple suits to leverage patent portfolios across product lines, technologies and geographies and to balance risk and exposure between the parties. In some cases, several competitors are parties in the same proceeding, or in a series of related proceedings, or litigate multiple features of a single class of devices. These forces frequently drive settlement not only of individual cases, but also of a series of pending and potentially related and unrelated cases. In addition, although monetary and injunctive relief is typically sought, remedies and restitution are generally not determined until the conclusion of the proceedings and are frequently modified on appeal. Accordingly, the outcomes of individual cases are difficult to time, predict or quantify and are often dependent upon the outcomes of other cases in other geographies.
Several third parties have asserted that our current and former stent systems infringe patents owned or licensed by them. We have similarly asserted that stent systems or other products sold by these companies infringe patents owned or licensed by us. Adverse outcomes in one or more of these proceedings against us could limit our ability to sell certain stent products in certain jurisdictions, or reduce our operating margin on the sale of these products. In addition, damage awards related to historical sales could be material.
Patents and other proprietary rights are and will be essential to our business, and our ability to compete effectively with other companies will be dependent upon the proprietary nature of our technologies. We rely upon trade secrets, know-how, continuing technological innovations, strategic alliances and licensing opportunities to develop, maintain and strengthen our competitive position. We pursue a policy of generally obtaining patent protection in both the U.S. and abroad for patentable subject matter in our proprietary devices and also attempt to review third-party patents and patent applications to the extent publicly available to develop an effective patent strategy, avoid infringement of third-party patents, identify licensing opportunities and monitor the patent claims of others. We currently own numerous U.S. and foreign patents and have numerous patent applications pending. We also are party to various license agreements pursuant to which patent rights have been obtained or granted in consideration for cash, cross-licensing rights or royalty payments. No assurance can be made that any pending or future patent applications will result in issued patents, that any current or future patents issued to, or licensed by, us will not be challenged or circumvented by our competitors, or that our patents will not be found invalid.
In addition, we may have to take legal action in the future to protect our patents, trade secrets or know-how or to assert them against claimed infringement by others. Any legal action of that type could be costly and time consuming to us and no assurances can be made that any lawsuit will be successful. We are generally involved as both a plaintiff and a defendant in a number of patent infringement and other intellectual property-related actions. We are involved in numerous patent-related claims with our competitors, including Johnson & Johnson.
The invalidation of key patents or proprietary rights that we own, or an unsuccessful outcome in lawsuits to protect our intellectual property, could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial position or results of operations.