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Mako Settles IP Disputes

Mako Surgical Corp., a Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based orthopedic robotics company has won one of the two lawsuits it was involved in with Blue Belt Technologies Inc., also an orthopedic robotic surgical device company based in Pittsburgh, Pa.

Mako obtained an order granting permanent injunction preventing its former employee Jeffrey Gellman, who joined Blue Belt as its western regional vice president, from performing in any capacity between April 3 and July 31 this year. From Aug. 1 through Sept. 30 Gellman will be permitted to work for Blue Belt “in a limited capacity” but is not allowed to work in any sales or marketing roles, and can only work “with an inward-facing position” with no interaction with clients or prospective clients, according to the court order.

Mako feared Gellman would divulge confidential information to Blue Belt, and so filed a complaint asserting breach of contract, breach of non-compete obligations, misappropriation of trade secrets and tortuous interference. Both Blue Belt and Gellman have been ordered to certify under penalty of perjury that all Mako proprietary information in their possession has been permanently purged. The U.S. District Court retained jurisdiction of the matter to ensure compliance with its order.

“Mako is pleased with the sweeping and substantial injunctive relief we obtained on an expedited basis,” said Maurice R. Ferré, M.D., president and CEO of Mako. “We will remain vigilant in protecting the substantial investments made in becoming the leader in the field of robotically assisted orthopedic surgery.”

“We believe that this lawsuit was without merit and Mako failed to prove that Blue Belt engaged in any wrongdoing. In fact, Mako failed to substantiate many of the allegations it made in its complaint and we are confident that Blue Belt would have prevailed had the litigation continued,” said Blue Belt President and CEO Eric Timko. “At the same time, however, Blue Belt determined that it is in our best interest to compete with Mako by selling our new robotic technology in the marketplace, instead of competing in the courtroom, where no surgeon or patient can benefit. We have established great momentum since officially launching NavioPFS in the United States. We fully expect to continue rapidly expanding our presence in the marketplace as more physicians and hospitals see the benefits that NavioPFS can bring to their patients and facilities at an economically friendly price point.”

Mako’s flagship products are the Makoplasty partial hip and partial knee resurfacing systems, and Blue Belt’s is the NavioPFS surgical system. The two are similar in application, which has made for some fierce competition in the market.

In March, Mako also filed complaints against Stanmore Implants Worldwide Ltd., which is an orthopedics robotics company based in Plymouth, Mass. Mako alleged that Stanmore’s Sculptor Robotic Guidance Arm business infringed on its intellectual property (IP). This month, the two companies came to an agreement for Mako to acquire certain of Stanmore’s Sculptor assets. The terms of the deal remain confidential.

Ferré said the agreement affirms Mako’s IP in robotically assisted orthopedic surgery and that the company is “enthused about the possibility of partnering with Stanmore on potential future projects.”

“Stanmore is pleased to have reached closure in this matter,” said Michael R. Mainelli, Jr., president and CEO of Stanmore.

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