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Face mask fight round 2: F&P files own patent claim

Fisher & Paykel Healthcare's long-running patent battle with US rival ResMed over obstructive sleep apnea face masks has intensified this week, with F&P claiming its own patents have been breached.

Auckland-based F&P Healthcare has filed a complaint with the US International Trade Commission, alleging the AirFit P10 for Her masks and AirFit P10 for AirMini masks infringe five of its patents. it is seeking permanent "exclusion" and "cease and desist" orders to prevent the sale and importation of the AirFit P10 range of masks in the US.

F&P Healthcare's action comes hot on the heels of a complaint to the commission from ResMed earlier this month, where the US company sought to ban the importation and sale of F&P Healthcare's Simplus full face mask, Eson nasal mask and Eson 2 nasal mask in the US. ReMed separately lodged a new suit in the US district court accusing the Kiwi firm of patent infringement and seeking damages, plus an injunction against future sales of the masks.

The two companies have been locked in litigation since 2016 spanning the US, UK, Europe, New Zealand and Australia.

F&P Healthcare managing director Lewis Gradon says the company has built up a portfolio of more than 2,000 issued and pending patents over the past 20 years. "We have developed unique mask technology that has provided improved care and outcomes for patients with obstructive sleep apnea, and we take infringement of our intellectual property rights very seriously.”

F&P Healthcare spent $15.6 million on litigation in the year ended March 31, 2018, down from $20.7 million a year earlier. The company said today its earnings guidance for the 2019 financial year remains unchanged, as its latest update on September 3 allowed for legal costs of the latest action. That guidance said the patent dispute would cut annual earnings by as much as $10 million to a range of $205 million to $210 million in the year ending March 31, 2019, from a previous forecast of $215 million.

F&P Healthcare shares slipped 0.3 percent to $14.75, having gained 15 percent over the past year.

(BusinessDesk)

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