Bosch sues three competitors over Health Buddy patents

By Neil Versel

Health Buddy now BoschRobert Bosch Healthcare Systems has sued three makers of remote home health monitoring technology, claiming that the competitors infringed on patents for Bosch's Health Buddy system.

The telehealth business of German industrial conglomerate Robert Bosch GmbH filed three separate lawsuits last month in federal court in California against: mobile health monitoring technology vendor MedApps, of Scottsdale, Ariz.; Austin, Texas-based startup Waldo Networks; and telehealth vendor Express MD Solutions, Berkeley Heights, N.J. At press time, MobiHealthNews was awaiting copies of the lawsuits, but spokeswoman Cheryl Kilborn of Robert Bosch LLC, the U.S. affiliate of Robert Bosch GmbH and parent of Bosch Healthcare said the three cases relate to intellectual property.

"We feel it is important to demonstrate that IP is important, and not just to our company," Kilborn told MobiHealthNews. "Bosch Healthcare Systems, like most high-tech companies, values its intellectual property as an essential asset of its business," she added in an e-mailed statement."Bosch is open to working with those companies that are interested in securing this technology through a licensing agreement, and we are in discussion with numerous companies in this regard."

Bosch is seeking to have the court order the three defendants to stop marketing their products, plus unspecified punitive damages.

The three companies do, like Bosch, market products for home-based health monitoring. MedApps makes connectivity software and devices for home health, including the HealthPAL data-transmission unit. Express MD Solutions offers the Electronic House Call vitals monitor and various Web-based telehealth services.

Waldo Networks, formerly Waldo Health, developed a tablet-based home monitoring system. There isn't much online about Waldo Networks, but the company won a local IBM contest last year and raised $750,000 in private equity in 2010. (This 2010 video demonstrates the technology.) The websites for both Waldo Health and Waldo Networks were down on Monday.

MedApps CEO and founder Kent Dicks said that the suit against his company was baseless. "We obviously don't infringe their patents," he told MobiHealthNews. Dicks added that two patents mentioned in the suit are set to expire at the end of 2012, so it was unclear what Bosch's intent is with the legal action.

Express MD also denied the claims. In a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission last week, parent company Authentidate Holding Corp. said that Express MD had, along with EncounterCare Solutions, co-licensed the Bosch technology. We believe that we have strong defenses to [Bosch's] allegations and we intend to vigorously defend the litigation," the filing said. Express MD further stated that it countersued Bosch on Jan. 27.

Citing company policy, Kilborn declined to discuss specifics of each case.

Since 2009, Bosch and disease management services provider Healthways have been licensing their remote health monitoring, automated diagnostics and health/disease management technology. Bosch acquired the Health Buddy in a 2007 takeover of Health Hero Network, a firm founded by technology entrepreneur Steve Brown.