Teladoc accuses Amwell of patent infringement

The telehealth vendor demanded that Amwell stop selling, importing or using the products in question.
By Kat Jercich
01:08 PM

Telehealth giant Teladoc has accused another player in the space, Amwell, of infringing on several of its patents.  

As reported by STAT News, Teladoc sent a letter to Amwell representatives this past week alleging that some of Amwell's products – including multiple telemedicine carts and peripheral devices for use with them, such as the Thinklabs One Digital Stethoscope and the Horus HD Digital Scope System – infringed on patents that Teladoc had acquired with its acquisition of InTouch Health earlier this year.

"Accordingly, we demand that Amwell immediately cease selling, offering to sell, making, using, and importing into the US the Accused Products," wrote Teladoc's representative Micahel V. Solomita, partner at Norton Rose Fulbright. 

Solomita gave Amwell a deadline of this past Friday to do so, saying that Teladoc would otherwise move forward with enforcement of the patents. 

WHY IT MATTERS  

As the COVID-19 crisis has rocketed, the longevity – and potential profitability – of telemedicine back into the public sphere, Teladoc and Amwell have carved out large sectors of the virtual care market.  

"While the telehealth market is in an early stage of development, it is competitive and we expect it to attract increased competition, which could make it difficult for us to succeed. We currently face competition in the telehealth industry from a range of companies, including specialized software and solution providers that offer similar solutions, often at substantially lower prices, and that are continuing to develop additional products and becoming more sophisticated and effective. These competitors include Doctor On Demand, MDLive and Teladoc," wrote Amwell this past month in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission as it prepares to go public.

Amwell noted that electronic health record vendors such as Cerner and Epic could build telehealth functionality into their existing systems, and pointed to competitors such as Zoom and Twilio that have pivoted to providing telehealth amidst the relaxation of HIPAA requirements during the public health emergency.  

In a subsequent filing, as reported by Exits & Outcomes and STAT, Amwell said that it believes Teladoc's claims "lack merit" and that it intends "to defend against them vigorously."

"Moreover, even if we were found to infringe upon any valid claim of these patents, our revenues from the Carepoints products approximated 5% of our revenues in 2019," wrote Amwell.

In response to requests for comment, Amwell directed Healthcare IT News to its remarks in the filing. Teladoc did not respond to requests for comment by press time.

THE LARGER TREND  

Amwell filed suit against Teladoc in 2015, accusing the company of using an online platform that was too similar to its own.

"While a transparent and competitive landscape is an imperative for innovation, Teladoc has unfairly disregarded American Well's ownership rights to advance its business," wrote Amwell chair and CEO Ido Schoenberg at the time. "We developed and patented these innovations and we owe it to our clients, partners and shareholders to protect them."  

Teladoc also faced a legal claim earlier this summer, with an individual accusing the vendor of allegedly making robocalls to consumers without their consent through a marketing partner. That lawsuit is ongoing.  

ON THE RECORD  

"We cannot predict with any certainty whether and to what degree the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and reactions thereto will continue, and expect to face difficulty accurately predicting our internal financial forecasts. The outbreak also presents challenges as our workforce is largely working remotely in helping new and existing health systems, health plan and innovator clients, many of whose employees are also generally working remotely," wrote Amwell in its latest SEC filing.  

Kat Jercich is senior editor of Healthcare IT News.
Twitter: @kjercich
Email: kjercich@himss.org
Healthcare IT News is a HIMSS Media publication.

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