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Medtronic loses heart valve patent fight in Germany

By Sakthi Prasad

(Reuters) - A German court ruled against Medtronic Inc in the latest round of its patent fight with Edwards Lifesciences on Friday, judging the U.S. medical device maker's transcatheter heart valve technology infringes a patent owned by Edwards.

Shares of Edwards were up 3.7 percent at $68.25 in early afternoon trading on the New York Stock Exchange, while shares of Medtronic were down 1.4 percent at $53.01.

The German court decision immediately bars sales of Medtronic's CoreValve and CoreValve Evolut systems in that country, requires their recall from the market and payment of damages.

"Germany is the second largest market for transcatheter valves outside of the U.S.," said Jefferies & Co analyst Raj Denhoy. The Medtronic devices are not yet being sold in the United States, where Edwards is pursuing patient litigation to keep its competitor from entering the market.

Medtronic said in a statement that it "respectfully disagrees" with the Mannheim court's decision and intends to appeal.

The validity of the patent, known as the Spenser patent, is also being contested at the European patent office.

The artificial valves, threaded into the heart with a catheter through an artery, are designed to spare patients from chest cracking, open heart surgery.

In November, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit said it was upholding a decision by a federal court in Delaware that Medtronic's device infringed a patent owned by Edwards. The court awarded $74 million in lost profits and royalties.

Medtronic said its revenue from the affected products in Germany was less than 0.5 percent of its total revenue in fiscal year 2013, while reiterating its revenue and earnings outlook for fiscal year 2014.

The company said it continues to expect full-year revenue growth in the range of 3 to 4 percent on a constant currency basis and earnings in the range of $3.80 to $3.85 per share.

Analysts, on an average, were expecting full-year earnings of $3.84 per share, on revenue of $16.96 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

The European market for transcatheter heart valves currently totals about $600 million a year, and Germany is about 40 percent of that, Denhoy said.

Heart disease is the world's No. 1 killer. An estimated 500,000 Americans suffer from severely diseased heart valves, according to the American Heart Association.

(Additional reporting by Deena Beasley; Editing by Marguerita Choy)

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