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ORANGE COUNTY BUSINESS : Birtcher Medical Wins Patent Safeguard

January 04, 1992

IRVINE — Birtcher Medical Systems Inc. said Friday that it has won a permanent injunction to protect its patent on a surgical device.

The court victory is a boost to Birtcher, as sales of its device--the Argon Beam Coagulator--generated more than one-fifth of the company's total revenue last fiscal year.

A federal jury in Colorado had ruled in October that Beacon Laboratories Inc. of Denver had violated Birtcher's patent on the coagulator, but declined to award Birtcher damages.

In the latest action on Dec. 31, U.S. District Judge Lewis T. Babcock ruled that Beacon will be permanently enjoined from selling its blood coagulator, the Beamer One, after a 120-day transition period, according to court documents.

Birtcher claims its argon gas system stops bleeding faster and with less damage than other types of surgical devices. In September, the company received FDA clearance to market the coagulator for use in endoscopic, or less invasive, surgery.

William E. Maya, Birtcher president and chief executive officer, said Friday that sales of the coagulator for the fiscal year ended June 30, 1991, represented more than 20% of the company's $31 million in revenue.

"Today, six months later, it's significantly higher," Maya said. More than 1,000 of the units have been sold, he said.

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