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George B. O’Neil is an Australian physician, inventor and humanitarian,his Atlanta attorney says. While practicing at a rural South African hospital, O’Neil was struck bythe number of paraplegics who had been paralyzed as a result of aparticularly brutal form of retaliation against one’s enemies — they werestabbed in the back with a sharpened bicycle spoke. His paraplegic patients, because of their injuries, generally requiredfrequent catheterization of their bladders and, as a result, were highlysusceptible to infection. It was then that O’Neil began designing an innovative catheter thatwould reduce, if not eliminate, those infections. On his return toAustralia, O’Neil and his wife established a family-owned company toproduce and sell the catheters, which he named after himself, in part toprevent larger international medical supply firms from appropriating hispatented invention. But according to his attorney, Alston & Bird partner Patrick J. Flinn,another firm still stole his product and profits. The Georgia company to whom O’Neil had granted exclusive sales rights inthe United States deceived and betrayed the physician, Flinn said. Thecompany, Medical Marketing Group Inc., stole millions of dollars inprofits, then illegally transferred the marketing rights to a companylisted on the New York Stock Exchange, according to Flinn. This month, a federal jury in Atlanta awarded O’Neil $64 million inunpaid royalties, damages and “unjust enrichment” for trademarkinfringement and breach of contract. At the end of a nine-day trial, thejury issued the verdict against the firm that bought MMG’s assets — InMedCorp., a wholly owned subsidiary of Teleflex Inc. — and MMG’s successorfirm, Alpine Medical Inc. U.S. District Judge Thomas W. Thrash Jr. presided over the case. GoMedical v. InMed, No. 1:01CV313 (N.D. Feb. 12, 2004). The companies, Flinn said, gambled that they could misappropriate “aman’s name and life’s work, hoping he won’t have the resources to dealwith it. … If you’re looking for lessons, one lesson here is that youcan’t be cavalier about trademark infringement. It’s more than aboutjust injunctions. There can be real damages associated with trademarkinfringement.” Flinn tried the case with co-counsel Robin L. McGrath. InMed and Alpine attorneys have filed a motion asking Thrash to modifythe verdict and are planning to appeal.

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