Good news today for the telemedicine industry as the federal courts ruled that American Well’s telemedicine patents are unenforceable in their case against Teladoc. Here’s an excerpt from Mobi Health News on the decision:
It’s looking more and more like the path to victory in the major turf wars of digital health will not be through patent litigation.
Earlier this week, a Massachusetts federal judge Indira Talwani ruled that American Well’s telehealth patents, which the company had sued Teladoc for allegedly infringing, were unenforceably broad. She cited the same Supreme Court precedent, Alice v. CLS Bank, that an ITC judge used to invalidate Jawbone’s patents last month in the tracker company’s battle with Fitbit.
I love the way Jonah Comstock from Mobi Health News described the decision. The path to victory won’t be based on patent litigation. Let’s hope that Jonah is right since patent litigation is an awful way to create a market. That’s true for telemedicine and the health sensor market. There’s a supposed PHR patent out there which needs to be invalidated the same way.
As you can see, I’m not a huge fan of software patents. It’s pretty hard to make the case for the innovation that you’re really trying to accomplish. Plus, far too many software patents are held by patent trolls. In this case, it’s a bit better since American Well has built a legitimate telemedicine business and isn’t just relying on their patent. That’s a good thing and it’s healthy to have Teladoc, American Well, MDLive and others battling it out in the market.
I’m glad to see the federal courts ruling on this. American Well is looking to appeal the decision, so it’s not over yet, but I’m hoping the result of their appeal is the same. We’ll all be better with that patent being unenforcable.