U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers
U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers ()

SAN FRANCISCO — A federal judge recently allowed new claims brought in a 2-year-old patent case against a Bay Area medical company. For the defendant, that means it’s time to hire new lawyers.

AngioScore Inc., which makes surgical devices that help doctors clear patients’ blocked arteries, originally filed a suit alleging one claim of patent infringement against competitor TriReme Medical Inc. Late last month, U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers, in Oakland, allowed AngioScore to tack on California and Delaware law claims alleging breach of fiduciary duty, aiding and abetting a breach of fiduciary duty and unfair competition.

In response, TriReme on Monday hired a new team of Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati lawyers led by partner Dylan Liddiard.

“Our firm does a fair amount of defense work in breach of fiduciary duty cases,” Liddiard said. “From our point of view, their amended state law claims have no merit and we intend to vigorously defend them.”

Liddiard’s team will join attorneys from Irvine-based Knobbe, Martens, Olson & Bear, who have been representing TriReme since early on in the case. AngioScore has tapped Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton.

The lawsuit centers on a balloon catheter designed to inflate and clear a blocked blood vessel while minimizing risk to the patient. Such balloons can inflate unevenly, which can exert too much pressure on the blood vessel wall and cause trauma. The balloon in question uses a specially designed tube that allows the blood vessel to expand evenly.

AngioScore alleges TriReme infringed on its patent by introducing a balloon catheter marketed as “Chocolate.”

Sheppard Mullin attorneys contend that while undertaking discovery on the patent claim, they uncovered evidence suggesting Chocolate actually belongs to AngioScore.

Chocolate was developed in part by TriReme cofounder Eitan Konstantino, who, according to the complaint, also founded AngioScore and served as its president and then executive vice president through 2006. Konstantino continued to serve on AngioScore’s board of directors until 2010, and AngioScore’s lawyers say he was a board member when he developed Chocolate, meaning he was prohibited from pursuing his own opportunities without the consent of AngioScore.

“Nevertheless … Konstantino secretly conceived of and began development of the Chocolate device, without disclosing it to AngioScore, despite the fact that … Chocolate competed directly with AngioScore’s primary product, AngioSculpt,” Sheppard Mullin attorneys wrote.

James Geriak, special counsel to Sheppard Mullin, declined to comment.

Konstantino resigned from AngioScore’s board in 2010, and filed a patent application for Chocolate 35 days later, according to the complaint.

He now serves as CEO of QT Vascular Ltd., a Singapore-based company that acquired TriReme last year.

TriReme’s attorneys fought back when AngioScore attempted to add breach of duty claims, alleging AngioScore had first accused Konstantino of those breaches more than four years ago. But Rogers sided with AngioScore, writing, “defendants make, at most, a cursory showing of undue delay and bad faith.”

Last week TriReme also added Agility IP Law partners David Caine and Brandon Baum to its team. The pair is simultaneously representing TriReme in a separate suit filed in the Northern District of California late last month. That suit, in which TriReme is the plaintiff, challenges AngioScore’s ownership of a patent for a balloon catheter with cutting blades to treat hardened vascular lesions. The catheter in question was also invented in part by Konstantino.

Contact the reporter at mkendall@alm.com.