Elscint pitches patent case at Sopha

February 27, 1991

Elscint is readying a nuclear medicine patent infringement suitagainst Sopha Medical of France and its U.S. subsidiary, SophaMedical Systems of Columbia, MD. While Sopha executives are notcertain what specific charges are being made, they maintain

Elscint is readying a nuclear medicine patent infringement suitagainst Sopha Medical of France and its U.S. subsidiary, SophaMedical Systems of Columbia, MD. While Sopha executives are notcertain what specific charges are being made, they maintain thatthe firm is innocent of any infringement. Elscint will file thesuit in the U.S. District Court of Maryland.

The relevant Elscint patents, some dating back 10 years, arebroad. It is possible that Elscint may target other nuclear medicinecompanies with similar litigation and attempts to license itstechnology.

Seven patents are included in the initial suit, according toA. Robert Sohval, executive vice president and general managerfor Elscint in the U.S. (see story, page 8). The company has manymore patents that could be included at a future date, he said.

"It is Elscint's belief that we have developed some ofthe basic technology involved in nuclear medicine imaging,"Sohval said.

One of the Elscint patents in the case against Sopha involvesthe use of different-sized photomultiplier tubes within a nuclearmedicine camera head. This type of technology is widely used onjumbo nuclear cameras and is found on equipment as dated as thenine-year-old Technicare Omega camera, said Randy Weatherhead,Sopha vice president of marketing.

"Some (of the Elscint claims) are awfully farfetched,"said John Endahl, director of technical/clinical science for Sopha."They essentially threw up a whole battery (of charges) andsaid, `Tell us whether you have infringed or not.' Our initialanalysis indicates that there are no grounds for patent infringement(charges). We are cooperating to clarify these issues."

The legal action not only offers Elscint the potential of licensingrevenues, but--if successful--could also help strengthen the vendor'stechnological image, Sohval said.

"This further establishes Elscint's position as the technicalleader. It sends a message to the market and competitors thatwe were pioneers and should be recognized as such," he said.