updated 7/1/2005 6:33:27 PM ET 2005-07-01T22:33:27

A Delaware jury Friday ruled for Boston Scientific Corp. and against Johnson & Johnson Inc. in a key test of patents protecting its drug-eluting stent technology.

The jury said J&J's Cypher stent infringes a Boston Scientific patent-protecting technology that allows drug coatings to be applied to stents, medical devices used in the treatment of cardiovascular disease.

The jury also found J&J's Cypher, Bx Velocity, Bx Sonic and Genesis stents infringe a design patent held by Boston Scientific.

The patent contest is the third this year in Delaware federal court between the country's two largest makers of drug-coated stents. Natick, Mass.-based Boston Scientific lost two earlier patent fights with its rival in the multi-billion dollar stent technology market this year in the same court.

In June, New Brunswick, N.J.-based J&J won a jury verdict against Boston Scientific on patent infringement claims against the framework design of Boston Scientific's market-leading Taxus Express drug-eluting stent.

An earlier case, decided in March, ended in an infringement finding against Boston Scientific for infringing a J&J patent by way of the Nir stent, which is no longer marketed. Damages in that case remain to be resolved.

Drug-eluting stents have virtually displaced bare-metal stents from the market, since they carry medicine that helps prevent unclogged arteries from closing up again.

Friday's decision means J&J will face a damages trial in August, around the same time Boston Scientific is trying to fend off damages in the first of the two stent patent disputes that went to trial in June.

J&J will push for $844 million in lost profit damages on the first June infringement verdict. It is not know yet how much Boston Scientific will be seeking for Friday's infringement finding.

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