On November 29th, at the US Federal District Court in Los Angeles California, a jury found that VGo Communications did not infringe three patents owned by InTouch Technologies Inc (doing business as InTouch Health). In addition, the court found the InTouch submitted patents to be invalid. VGo produces an affordable robotic telepresence solution, while InTouch, with its technology partner iRobot, produces a solution at about 20 times the price of a VGo.
VGo, with decades of robotic and visual communications experience, previously had reviewed InTouch’s patents prior to completing the design of its product. In the fall of 2010, InTouch approached VGo with an offer to license a number of InTouch held patents. VGo again looked at 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 that 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 eight person 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.
Also, separately, VGo requested that The US Patent Office re-examine four other patents held by InTouch. VGo provided supporting documents on why those patents are invalid. To date, the US Patent Office has ruled on three of the re-examination requests and has rejected all of the claims within those patents previously granted to InTouch. The other is still in the re-examination process.
“This is great news for our customers and the healthcare industry,” said Peter N. Vicars, CEO of VGo Communications. “InTouch Health has been taking advantage of an overworked patent system in order to secure invalid patents that they then use to bleed competitors with frivolous lawsuits. New companies are producing competitive products at prices significantly less than what InTouch charges, so InTouch is using teams of lawyers to maintain InTouch’s exorbitant prices. By winning this case and eliminating invalid patents, new low cost solutions like the one produced by VGo can be made available – and this is what the healthcare industry needs right now ? not high priced over-featured products whose time has passed.”Read More