A Diagnostics & Imaging Week

SonoSite (Bothell, Washington), a developer of hand-carried ultrasound systems, reported that it has filed a lawsuit alleging patent infringement against Zonare Medical Systems (Mountain View, California) in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California Southern Division.

SonoSite alleges that Zonare has infringed its U.S. Patent No. 5,722,412 (the ‘412 patent) through sales of its z.one ultrasound platform. SonoSite’s ‘412 patent covers a portable ultrasound system. The complaint seeks unspecified monetary damages and a court injunction against future infringement by Zonare.

Kevin Goodwin, SonoSite president/CEO, said, “After thoroughly examining the issues, we were convinced that we had to move aggressively to protect and enforce our intellectual property.”

The company said the filing does not alter its 2007 guidance provided on Feb. 15 with the release of its 4Q and 2006 financial results, as estimated expenses associated with the lawsuit were included in the company’s forecast.

In other legalities: iMDsoft (Boston) reported that the second reexamination of a healthcare services patent owned by Visicu (Baltimore) — and requested by iMDsoft — has resulted in Visicu limiting all its patent claims.

iMDsoft reported that on Feb. 6, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) held all claims in Visicu’s patent No. 6,804,656 to be invalid as not patentable.

The invalidity finding was based on prior art that includes iMDsoft’s own patent disclosure, which it said pre-dates Visicu’s patent.

IMDsoft claimed it has had a patent for technology to provide remote intensive care unit (ICU) monitoring technology for hospitals since 1996 under the MetaVision brand — three years before Visicu’s filing — and filed papers with patent regulators to force a determination of whose claim prevails.

IMDsoft accused Visicu of contacting iMDsoft customers, armed with its patent for certain remote ICU monitoring technology, telling them that Visicu controlled all the rights and offering even to remove prospective clients’ iMDsoft systems.

It said that because of the recent reexamination all of Visicu’s patents are affected and forced Visicu, on Feb. 15, to narrow all the patent claims to require that the monitoring and intervention “occurs in an automated fashion at the remote command center” 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. There is no “user intervention” or “user input.”

Visicu said: “The patient’s care is at all times managed from the remote command center.” And it advised the USPTO that its patent does not cover “intervention with the patient [that] does not occur in an automated fashion at the central station” or “is manually determined by the emergency service provider or a facility to which the patient is transported by the emergency service provider.”

Phyllis Gotlib, CEO of iMDsoft, said the USPTO action “clearly strengthens our competitive position in the market. We always believed that involving medical personnel produces safer medical care. In fact, the new Visicu claims have limited relevance to commercial systems, as virtually all medical care systems utilize medical personnel at some point during the 24/7 monitoring and intervention operations.”

iMDsoft develops technologies for clinical information and anesthesia information management, supporting care in intensive care and perioperative environments including “telemonitoring” programs. Its MetaVision Suite is a family of products designed to capture, integrate and analyze critical care information.

Visicu is the developer of the eICU Program designed to use remote monitoring technology to allow health systems to centralize critical care trained staff to improve coverage and for earlier intervention..