Telehealth patent holders continue aggressive defense

As your Editors have reported since February, large companies in the telehealth field have been stepping forward aggressively to defend what they perceive as infringements on their patents and intellectual property. Robert Bosch Healthcare took the lead with their February lawsuit against Waldo Health, MedApps and ExpressMD on infringements on Health Hero (now Health Buddy) patents. A review to date:

  • Pre-market Waldo Health settled in April and licensed the technology. Aside from a management realignment (a Texo Ventures venture partner succeeding founder Sam Fuller as CEO, now CTO), and a sober redo of their website and logo (no little Waldo anymore), the company, with an FDA clearance in hand, has gone oddly quiet.
  • MedApps, which took on Bosch in court, was acquired last month by Alere (now Alere Connect). Mobihealthnews reports that Alere and Bosch have, interestingly, a longstanding IP agreement from a settlement years ago, and a recent filing in the Bosch-MedApps lawsuit indicates that Alere already holds the license for the patents in question. Action continues, but MedApps and Bosch have now filed a motion to go to mediation by mid-October so it appears to be a fortuitous ending for all parties.
  • The company in the diciest position is NJ-based ExpressMD, which has major contracts with the US Department of Veterans Affairs and several health providers such as Premier and Meadville Medical Center/Highmark BCBS of PA. Its parent, Authentidate, which also has other hospital medical monitoring systems, reverse stock split (2:1) in order to meet NASDAQ’s minimum value of $1.00. The stock has generally languished in the $1-2.00 range, briefly going above $3.00 in 2010, but certainly the Bosch lawsuit has depressed whatever stock value is present.

We note that AirStrip, in receiving their patent for their mobile patient monitoring platform for patient physiologic monitoring data, used unusually strong warning language in their release. Quoting their CEO,”As the first and only global company to offer FDA-cleared applications that deliver live and historic patient physiologic monitoring data to mobile devices, AirStrip has a responsibility to exercise its patent protection in ways that rapidly drive the evolution of mHealth in a uniform and positive direction.” Certainly angels, VCs and strategic investors will be scrutinizing, to an extent not seen before, IP and patentable technology to ensure there are no patent infringements. While you may disagree with Bosch and AirStrip’s aggressive stance at this early stage [TA 16 Feb] it is an inevitable sign of a maturing industry and large players gaining control: control of their technology rights and control of their market space. In other words, we are not in the Wild West anymore; the railroads are coming through. Could it be depressing development of competitive startups? The examples across fitness and telehealth given in Brian Dolan’s article seem to point to that conclusion.Are digital health patents beginning to shape the market? (Mobihealthnews) Readers chime in please!