Teladoc's road to IPO may prove to be a bumpy one thanks to a new legal battle with American Well. American Well's lawsuit, filed today in Massachusetts District Court, alleges that Teladoc's technology platform willingly infringes on a 2007 American Well patent. The suit asks for triple damages plus court fees, as well as an injunction against Teladoc continuing to do business.
"Teladoc has infringed American Well's intellectual property," Ido Schoenberg, CEO of American Well, said in a statement. "While a transparent and competitive landscape is an imperative for innovation, Teladoc has unfairly disregarded American Well's ownership rights to advance its business. We developed and patented these innovations and we owe it to our clients, partners and shareholders to protect them."
Teladoc told MobiHealthNews it would fight the suit, pointing out that it has already appealed to the patent board about the patent in question.
"American Well’s action today is in direct response to Teladoc’s March 24 petition with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office to invalidate certain American Well Corporation patents," Teladoc CEO Jason Gorevic said in a statement emailed to MobiHealthNews. "We very strongly believe that those patents are invalid. For one, American Well’s claims of being 'first-to-market' are demonstrably false due to the fact that Teladoc and others were providing telehealth long before American Well was even formed as a company. Second, the patents in question are impermissibly broad and cover matters that are too obvious to be patented. We will continue to pursue our petition to have American Well’s patents invalidated. As for today’s action by American Well, Teladoc will vigorously defend itself as it would in any other non-meritorious, ordinary-course litigation.”
The patent in question is patent number 7,590,550, “Connecting consumers with service providers.” It concerns the backend system by which American Well matches care requests with available providers. The lawsuit, which includes both the patent and Teladoc's S-1 form as evidence, highlights six distinct elements of the patented technology which are present in Teladoc's own description of its platform in the S-1.
The suit also includes some other interesting tidbits: that apparently Teladoc approached American Well in the hopes of licensing the patent and was turned down, and that Teladoc has also filed a request with the Patent Trial and Appeals Board that parts of the patent in question be reviewed. American Well points to both of these facts as evidence that Teladoc knowingly infringed the patent.
Teladoc was actually founded four years before American Well: Teladoc began in 2002, while American Well began in 2006 (the patent was granted in 2007).