Fonar patent litigation against GE and Hitachi is set for trial

July 27, 1994

Other MRI vendors could be next on Fonar's list A trial date has been set for Fonar's patent infringement lawsuitagainst GE, Hitachi and two imaging centers. Depending on theoutcome of the case, other MRI vendors could be targeted withsimilar

Other MRI vendors could be next on Fonar's list

A trial date has been set for Fonar's patent infringement lawsuitagainst GE, Hitachi and two imaging centers. Depending on theoutcome of the case, other MRI vendors could be targeted withsimilar litigation, according to an attorney representing Fonar.

Fonar filed a federal lawsuit in September of 1992 chargingthe defendants with violating four of its patents on basic MRItechnology (SCAN 9/16/92). The defendants are GE; four companiesassociated with Hitachi, including Hitachi Medical Systems America;Brookhaven Magnetic Resonance of Patchogue, NY; and South ShoreImaging of Rockville Center, NY. Fonar earlier this year addedanother patent claim to its case against Hitachi.

A trial on the claims has been set to begin this December inU.S. District Court for Eastern New York in Hauppauge, NY, Fonarannounced last month. Fonar is seeking monetary damages and aninjunction preventing the unlicensed use of its patents.

Fonar is suing for violation of the original MRI patent grantedto company founder Raymond Damadian, as well as another patentrelating to basic MR imaging and three patents relating to MRIusing permanent magnets. Fonar is suing GE and South Shore Imagingon the first two claims and Hitachi and Brookhaven on all five,according to Fonar counsel Ronald J. Schutz of Robins, Kaplan,Miller and Ciresi of Minneapolis. South Shore uses a GE system,while Brookhaven is a Hitachi customer.

The case is currently in discovery, Schutz said. In depositions,Fonar has acquired financial information about GE's MRI businessto use as a guide for determining damages if it wins the case.Fonar will not make that information public, he said.

Fonar's patents are broad enough that the company could pursuelitigation against other MRI vendors besides GE and Hitachi, Schutzsaid. Fonar has sent letters to other MRI companies notifyingthem that Fonar believes they are infringing on its patents. Fonarmay pursue litigation against these companies depending on theoutcome of the case against GE and Hitachi.

"We could sue other vendors," Schutz said. "Weare taking a wait-and-see attitude with the current case."

In other Fonar news, the Melville, NY, company reported improvedfinancial results for the third quarter (end-March). Fonar hadrevenues for the quarter of $5 million, up 5% from the $4.8 millionrecorded last year. The firm posted a gain for the quarter, withnet income of $56,000 compared to a loss of $123,000 for the sameperiod last year.