The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has affirmed a California federal jury’s finding that VGo Communications didn’t infringe three InTouch Technologies Inc. (doing business as InTouch Health) patents relating to technology for remotely controlled robots, while reversing the jury’s finding that claims two of the patents are invalid as obvious.
A three-judge panel sided with the trial court that there was substantial evidence that VGo didn’t infringe InTouch’s U.S. Patent Nos. 6,346,962, 6,925,357 and 7,593,030, which are directed to technology for remote telepresence robots.
The panel did rule, however, that VGo failed to prove claims of the ‘357 and ‘030 patents are invalid in view of prior art, and remanded to the lower court with directions to vacate those judgments.
The case is InTouch Technologies Inc. v. VGo Communications Inc., case number 13-1201, in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. Both InTouch Health and VGo Communications are RBR50 companies.
In the fall of 2010, InTouch approached VGo with an offer to license a number of InTouch held patents. VGo reviewed its own technology and consulted with legal counsel to be sure that no patents were infringed. VGo declined to license the patents.
On November 4, 2011, InTouch filed suit against VGo for infringing dozens of claims in three and then five patents. After requiring VGo to respond to all claims, InTouch eventually reduced the suit to four claims in three patents.
InTouch claimed VGo used an arbitration method for deciding who can connect to its robotic telepresence system and employed a call-back mechanism ? neither of which are used by VGo. Also InTouch claimed that VGo had violated elements of a patent they had purchased from IBM which defined specific methods for remote control of a videoconferencing camera? again VGo does not use these methods.
The jury took approximately three hours to find unanimously that VGo did not infringe any of the claims in the lawsuit, and furthermore accepted the prior art provided by VGo to find that two of InTouch’s prime patents were invalid.
InTouch was using the lawsuit to try to force VGo out of the healthcare market. InTouch has used this tactic previously, which has resulted in fewer ? and more expensive ? choices for healthcare organizations.