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Fonar settles patent suit with Philips

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Philips Medical Systems has apparently decided that the path ofleast resistance is the wisest course to take in MRI patent litigationwith Fonar. Fonar said last month that it has settled a lawsuitfiled last year charging the Dutch vendor with infringing

Philips Medical Systems has apparently decided that the path ofleast resistance is the wisest course to take in MRI patent litigationwith Fonar. Fonar said last month that it has settled a lawsuitfiled last year charging the Dutch vendor with infringing on patentsheld by Fonar founder Dr. Raymond Damadian (SCAN 7/6/95).

Philips joins Hitachi as one of two vendors that have settledlitigation with Fonar rather than fight it out in court. Hitachi'sdecision came before Fonar won a $62 million jury verdict againstGE Medical Systems, which is on appeal. Fonar also has litigationpending against Siemens and Toshiba.

Philips initially had taken a hard line against Fonar. Thevendor, whose U.S. subsidiary is based in Shelton, CT, petitionedto join a lawsuit filed by Siemens in a Delaware court seekingto invalidate Fonar's patents (SCAN 7/19/95). Fonar's case againstSiemens is scheduled to go to trial in the summer of 1997.

Terms of Fonar's settlement with Philips were not disclosed,but they will add momentum to Fonar's plan to use the proceedsfrom patent litigation to fund a comeback in MRI based on itsnew Quad series of scanners (SCAN 10/25/95). Fonar this monthmade its first shipment of a 0.35-tesla Quad 7000 scanner, whichwas sent to an international customer, according to the company.

Despite Fonar's victories in court, a recent case demonstratesthat the Melville, NY, vendor is not invincible in the legal arena.A U.S. District Court judge in New York City late last month threwout copyright infringement claims Fonar had filed against MagneticResonance Plus, a Sacramento, CA, independent service organizationthat maintained Fonar MRI units.

The judge hearing the case ruled that Fonar had inadequatelydefined its maintenance software. This definition had been foundinsufficient in a case Fonar had filed against another ISO, DeccaidServices, according to MR Plus attorneys. MR Plus president RobertDomenick said that his company would pursue antitrust claims againstFonar.

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