R2 chief exec slams suit as 'diversionary tactic'Computer-aided detection system manufacturer iCAD filed a lawsuit in federal court Tuesday against rival developer R2 Technology for patent infringement. The Nashua, NH, company
R2 chief exec slams suit as 'diversionary tactic'
Computer-aided detection system manufacturer iCAD filed a lawsuit in federal court Tuesday against rival developer R2 Technology for patent infringement. The Nashua, NH, company accuses its Sunnyvale, CA, competitor of deliberate infringement of U.S. Patent No. 5,212,637-also referred to as the '637 patent.
The patent, entitled Method of investigating mammograms for masses and calcifications, and apparatus for practicing such method, was issued May 18, 1993, to Stereometrix. The company has since changed its name to Scanis and issued an exclusive license to iCAD. Scanis has joined iCAD as a plaintiff in the suit.
"The '637 patent was filed before R2 was established and well before R2's products were introduced," said W. Scott Parr, iCAD president and CEO.
iCAD considers inventions covered by the '637 patent, such as MammoReader, iCAD's flagship product, as pioneering advances in breast cancer CAD. The company expects the legal battle to prove both R2's reliance on these inventions and the resulting infringement by R2 of the '637 patent.
iCAD's complaint charges that R2's Image Checker system for investigating mammograms for masses and calcifications knowingly, willfully, and deliberately infringes the '637 patent. iCAD is seeking a permanent injunction against sale by R2 of the allegedly infringing products, together with treble damages, costs, and legal fees.
But R2 Technology is having none of it. Michael S. Klein, R2 chairman, CEO, and president, claims the development of R2's Image Checker evolved along an entirely different limb of the CAD tree.
"Our intellectual property comes from work done at the University of Chicago and elsewhere in the early '90s," Klein said. "We believe that in no way does R2 infringe on the Scanis patent, and we will vigorously defend ourselves against what we look at as a diversionary tactic."
R2 and iCAD have been at loggerheads over patents for some time, but until now R2 was on the offensive. The company last year filed suit in Delaware against iCAD for allegedly infringing three patents. This litigation is expected to go to trial in October.
iCAD might use the '637 patent in its defense during this trial. Stereometrix (now Scanis) developed the first prototype CAD system for breast cancer in 1989 based on the device that was patented in 1993, Parr said. The prototype included a film digitizer with a user interface, a computer, displays, and a printer. It identified calcifications and suspicious masses for the radiologist on a computer display screen and in printed form. This early application of CAD technology, together with other examples of CAD systems offered publicly after the Stereometrix system, provide evidence that can be used to challenge the validity of later R2 patents.
iCAD's current mammography system is the only CAD product designed on a relational database platform, Parr said. The company offers the fastest CAD system commercially available. He described it as the only one to look for asymmetries and the most effective at detecting breast masses. Its use allows 23% of breast cancers to be detected an average of 14 months earlier than screening mammography alone, he said. The FDA approved the company's CAD technology in January 2002 for marketing in the U.S.