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FTC Drops Visx Patent Fraud Case

February 16, 2001|From Bloomberg News

Visx Inc., the biggest maker of lasers used in vision-correction surgery, on Thursday said the Federal Trade Commission dismissed a 1998 patent-fraud case against the company.

The patent relates to use of an excimer laser to remove tissue from the cornea and improve vision. The procedure has become the most popular elective surgery in the U.S.

FTC lawyers recommended in December 1999 that the case be dropped because the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office was expected to grant an expanded patent related to a Visx excimer laser. The agency issued the new patent in September, Visx said in a statement.

"This really is a formality," Banc of America Securities analyst Ted Huber said.

Shares of Visx, based in Santa Clara, Calif., rose 46 cents to close at $16.03 on the New York Stock Exchange. The shares have fallen 38% in the past 12 months.

The FTC had said Visx violated antitrust laws by withholding information from patent examiners while it sought the original patent. An FTC judge ruled in Visx's favor in June 1999.

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