American Well has filed suit against Teladoc in U.S. District Court in Massachusetts, accusing its rival of “infringement of its intellectual property rights” in deploying an online telehealth platform that allegedly mirrors what Boston-based American Well deploys.
“Teladoc has infringed American Well’s intellectual property,” Ido Schoenberg, American Well’s co-founder and CEO, said in a press release. “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.”
The lawsuit (PDF file) is focused on American Well’s so-called “550 patent,” which explains the way the platform is accessed by a consumer to locate and connect online with an available healthcare provider.
Titled “Connecting consumers with service providers,” the patent describes “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 provider; identifying in the computer, an available member of the pool; and establishing a real-time communication channel between the consumer of the services and the identified member of the pool.”
The lawsuit is focused on American Well’s so-called “550 patent,” which explains the way the platform is accessed by a consumer to locate and connect online with an available healthcare provider.American Well alleges that Teladoc’s “enterprise data store” is identical to its data repository, and that Teladoc has also copied AmWell’s way of monitoring “providers’ capacity” and using a system which “manages custom visit queues that automatically and instantly route available visits to appropriate providers based upon proprietary algorithms.”
Related to this, in March – Teladoc officials filed what’s called an “inter partes review” (IPR) with the U.S. Patent Trial and Appeals Board, challenging the validity of American Well’s ‘550 patent. That fact was also used in American Well’s lawsuit, claiming that Teladoc was aware that its platform was similar to the one American Well provides.
Meanwhile, Teladoc has been fighting on other fronts, namely the decision of Texas Medical Board’s to limit patients’ access to telehealth services in the State. For the time being, they are winning that battle, but this latest lawsuit with American Well could have a big impact on the entire industry, let along Teladoc’s shareholders.