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said Tuesday it would seek a rehearing of a patent dispute with

Johnson & Johnson


after a federal appeals court overturned a district court's ruling that favored Medtronic.

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The dispute involves three Medtronic stents that the company says are now obsolete. Stents are wire mesh tubes that are used to keep arteries open following procedures to unclog the arteries.

The patent fight goes back to December 2000 when a jury awarded Johnson & Johnson $271 million, agreeing that Medtronic had infringed on J&J's patents. Two years later, a district court in Wilmington, Del., overturned the award.

And on Tuesday, a three-judge panel of appeals court judges overturned the Delaware court's ruling. Minneapolis-based Medtronic wants the full appeals court to hear the case. Medtronic also noted that it is suing J&J for patent infringement over other stents in federal courts in Texas and Delaware. J&J, based in New Brunswick, N.J., issued no comments on the patent cases.

The court's ruling coincided with Medtronic's financial report for the first quarter of its current fiscal year, matching a consensus earnings per share prediction of 37 cents by eight analysts polled by Thomson First Call.

Medtronic earned $450.4 million, or 37 cents a share, for the three months ended July 25, compared to a profit of $383.2 million, or 31 cents a share, for the three months ended July 26, 2002. Revenue rose 20% to $2.06 billion from $1.71 billion.

Medtronic has a diverse product line ranging from stents and defibrillators to insulin pumps for diabetics and products for spinal surgery. The largest businesses -- heart rhythm management devices, spinal products and neurology devices -- accounted for nearly three-fourths of the company's revenue. In aggregate, revenue from these businesses grew 25% for the quarter.

Medtronic's stock closed Tuesday up 1%, or 55 cents, at $52.45. The company's financial results were released after stock markets had closed.