Legal Featured Article
December 06, 2012
Jury at US Federal District Court Favor VGo as InTouch Submits Invalid Patents
By Tabitha Naylor, Contributing Writer
Late last week, a jury at the U.S. Federal District Court in Los Angeles California found that VGo Communications did not infringe on three patents owned by InTouch Technologies Inc., which is currently doing business as InTouch Health (News - Alert).
In addition, the court found the InTouch submitted patents to be invalid.
An affordable robotic tele-presence solution is produced by VGo, while with its technology partner, iRobot, InTouch produces a solution at about 20 times the price of a VGo. With decades of robotic and visual communications experience, InTouch's patents were previously reviewed by VGo, prior to completing the design of its product.
To license a number of InTouch held patents, InTouch approached VGo with an offer in the fall of 2010. Hence, to be sure no patents were infringed on, VGo re-examined its own technology and consulted with legal counsel.
VGo declined to license the patents.
For infringing dozens of claims in three and then five patents, InTouch filed suit against VGo on November 4, 2011.
InTouch eventually reduced the suit to four claims in three patents after requiring VGo to respond to all claims. InTouch claimed that VGo used an arbitration method and employed a call-back mechanism, neither of which is used by VGo, for deciding who can connect to its robotic tele-presence system.
InTouch also claimed that VGo had violated elements of a patent it had purchased from IBM (News - Alert) which defined specific methods for remote control of a videoconferencing camera; however, VGo does not use these methods.
To find unanimously that VGo did not infringe any of the claims in the lawsuit, the eight-person jury took approximately three hours. The jury also accepted the prior art provided by VGo to find that two of InTouch's prime patents were invalid.
InTouch was using the lawsuit in an attempt to force VGo out of the healthcare market. The firm has used this tactic previously, which resulted in fewer and more expensive choices for healthcare organizations.
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Edited by Braden Becker
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