Indiana Jones would be proud. As many of our bloggers reported, Stryker is suing Zimmer Spine after the new Indiana Jones of the spine industry, Paul Graveline allegedly poached their sales force. Thank you fellow bloggers. Just like Indy, Graveline was probably hired to excavate the spine world's Ark of the Covenant, immediate gratification, instantaneous revenue, a real shining star, a feather in his brown Stetson Fedora. The most entertaining aspect of the suit is that Stryker alleges that it stands to lose millions of dollars of sales as a result. But here's the irony of this action.
Many years ago Stryker set the precedent for this type of activity, by raiding the employment ranks of Smith and Nephew, Howmedica, Synthes, and Biomet. But the plot thickens as one reads that Stryker is accusing Zimmer of "willfully and maliciously" targeting Stryker employees to establish a spine related products division, (does Zimmer have a spine division, or at least an imitation of one?) without expending any effort to build it. So look at whom is calling the kettle black? Stryker infamous for its twenty percent growth, the darlings of the Street, known for increasing its market share in their orthopaedic and spine divisions by acquiring other company's people and technology is now going to sue Zimmer.
As for claiming that these former employees will be stealing confidential and proprietary information to unfairly compete is ludicrous at best. What's so proprietary about Stryker's spine portfolio. They rarely if ever have created a product from concept, and when they did they couldn't even file it properly. They acquired Dimso to catapult themselves into the spine arena, they acquired the licensing rights to OP-1 from Curis, they acquired Surgical Dynamics and the rights to Theken's products, only to screw the pooch on that deal, in addition to other acquisitions that took place in reconstruction and trauma. What proprietary secrets?
As for targeting Stryker customers, let's get serious. For all the spouting off on this blogs site that it comes down to relationships, weren't these relationships fostered by the distributors/sales people? The only reason doc's get involved in any company's venture is because they are interested in getting paid for their intellectual property, i.e. their knowledge. Most of them cannot stand the stiff suits. To accuse Zimmer of devising a scheme to create an instantly successful spine division is laughable at best. Even with this raid, Zimmer is a spine company operating with one hand tied behind their back. As for a corporation stating that these employees breached their fiduciary duty to the company, that's laughable at best, considering there isn't a company in spine that operates in a respectful manner. You're a piece of meat, and once you become expendable you're gone.
Graveline does bring a "fresh new approach" to Zimmer, one that Zimmer never really tried before. He is using the same old tricks that were taught to him by his mentor, Stryker, offering huge signing bonuses and guarantees at least for a short period of time. So in closing fellow bloggers, remember the old expression, misery loves company. Yes, Stryker will flex its financial and legal muscle against Zimmer, and, it will be interesting to see the Zimmer Board of Directors reaction in the long run if this little plot doesn't unfold as planned. The bigger question is, if Stryker wins the suit, could this be Double D's death knell? Yes, fellow bloggers, this is how we build revenue in a zero-sum market. No longer do company's create innovative technologies, today, the trend is to identify distributors and sales people that can bring immediate revenue wishing for the a shooting star, a meteor as it enters the spine atmosphere only to burn out before it hits the ground. If there ever was a self-immolating industry, look no further, you work in it.