- After convincing the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas to grant a preliminary injunction against a rule that would have limited its provision of telehealth services in the state, Teladoc is now facing a patent lawsuit brought forward by a competitor.
In the suit, American Well alleges that Teladoc has infringed a telehealth patent filed by the former back in 2007 and granted in 2009 — "Connecting consumers with service providers" (US7590550 B2).
"Teladoc has infringed American Well’s intellectual property," American Well CEO Ido Schoenberg said in a public statement. “While a transparent and competitive landscape is an imperative for innovation, Teladoc has unfairly disregarded American Well's ownership rights to advance its business. We developed and patented these innovations and we owe it to our clients, partners and shareholders to protect them.”
American Well is arguing that Teladoc's system "relies on American Well’s patented technology; however, Teladoc is not authorized to practice any of American Well’s patent claims."
The complaint contains a summary of the intellectual property covered by the patent (emphasis theirs):
For example, claim 10 of the ’550 patent describes a computer-implemented method comprising “accessing a data repository that stores information pertaining to medical service providers, including present availability of the medical service providers for participating in a consultation; receiving in a computer, indications that members of a pool of medical service providers have become presently available; receiving in the computer, a request from a consumer of services to consult with a medical service provider; identifying in the computer, an available member of the pool; and establishing a real-time communication channel between the consumer of services and the identified member of the pool.”
According to the American Well complaint, Teladoc's request for an inter partes review of the patent in March 23 is proof that "that it was aware of American Well’s ’550 patent before March 2015 and that Teladoc was concerned that it infringed the ’550 patent." Additionally, the court filing reveals that Teladoc approach American Well in order to obtain a license to the latter's patents, a request that was denied.
The telehealth company is seeking to prevent Teladoc from operating its Teladoc Systems as well as to recover damages at three times the amount based on the latter's willingness to infringe the American Well patent.
Earlier this month, Teladoc won a temporary victory against the Texas Medical Board, which was attempting to implement a new rule that would require physicians to have face-to-face encounters with new patients prior to writing prescriptions.
District Judge Robert L. Pitman disagreed with TMB on numerous grounds, including the comparative costs of telemedicine and face-to-face encounters and the impact of telehealth services on patient safety.