Health IT

American Well loses patent claim against Teladoc, plans appeal

American Well has already fired back. “This is Borders versus Amazon for healthcare,” said Chairman and CEO Dr. Ido Schoenberg.

Judge holding gavel in courtroom

A federal judge in Massachusetts has thrown out a patent-infringement lawsuit filed by telehealth company American Well against fierce competitor Teladoc and invalidated the patent itself. American Well said it would appeal.

American Well sued a year ago, accusing Teladoc of infringing on a patent for technology that connects consumers to telehealth service providers. American Well co-founder Dr. Roy Schoenberg has held the patent since 2009.

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According to Boston-based American Well, the court ruled that the claims in the patent were “too abstract” to be patentable and do not “amount to an inventive concept.”

Teladoc officials were understandably thrilled with the ruling. In a statement, Jason Gorevic, CEO of the Purchase, New York-based company, said:

Teladoc challenged these patents because we believe telehealth is a fundamental part of the modern healthcare system. Access to high-quality healthcare is too important, too broad and too obvious to be patented. This decision validates the position we took over a year ago — that the American Well patent portfolio is invalid and should not be an impediment to the proliferation of telehealth.

American Well had a different viewpoint. “We believe the court’s extrapolation of existing Supreme Court precedent raises a novel and appealable legal issue,” Bradford Gay, the company’s senior vice president and general counsel, said in an American Well press release.

Chairman and CEO Dr. Ido Schoenberg said that American Well has been a groundbreaking company for a decade, and essentially called its competition old-fashioned. “This is Borders versus Amazon for healthcare,” Schoenberg said in the statement.

American Well maintains that it “invented the brokerage engine that underpins modern online video telehealth, along with a host of ancillary technologies that enable doctors to connect remotely with patients for highly-informed, medically-appropriate consults.” It claims to hold 28 patents and have another 22 pending, while its competitors have none.

For its part, Teladoc argued in court that it has been around longer than American Well. Teladoc said its has three other cases pending with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to invalidate parts of other American Well patents.

Photo: Chris Ryan/Getty Images