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Bentley Laboratories Pays $53.1 Million in Infringement Suit

March 12, 1987

Pfizer Inc. said its Shiley Inc. subsidiary has received a $53.1-million payment stemming from an eight-year-old patent infringement suit it brought against Irvine-based Bentley Laboratories Inc.

The payment followed a decision late last month by the U.S. Supreme Court to deny an appeal by Bentley.

The trial court's judgment was entered in early 1985 after a federal jury found that Bentley had infringed on two Shiley patents covering the manufacture of blood oxygenators--a machine that helps patients breathe during open-heart surgery. Bentley was given six months to expend its inventories of the disputed blood oxygenators and the company eventually developed new versions of the devices that did not infringe on Shiley's patents.

In 1981, two years after the suit was filed, Bentley was acquired by American Hospital Supply Corp., which in turn was acquired in 1985 by Baxter Travenol Laboratories Inc. for $3.7 billion.

"It just goes to show that you can buy and sell companies faster than you can settle litigation," remarked Les Jacobson, a spokesman for Chicago-based Baxter Travenol.

Ironically, both Bentley and Shiley were early spin-offs of American Edwards Laboratories Inc., the Irvine-based company that developed the world's first mass-produced artificial heart valve. American Edwards itself was acquired by American Hospital Supply in 1966.

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