A Medical Device Daily

OrthoClear (San Francisco), a maker of next-generation invisible aligner therapies, reported what it said are “positive developments“ in its ongoing litigation with Align Technology (Santa Clara, California).

On Feb. 27, the California Superior Court ruled that OrthoClear and its founders may continue the company's suit against Align in California state court. OrthoClear said the court upheld five of six of its claims against Align: unfair competition, slander, breach of contract, libel and intentional interference with economic advantage.

OrthoClear said that Align had sought to avoid responsibility for claims for false and unfair statements about OrthoClear and its founders, claiming it was “immune“ from suit. Although the court dismissed OrthoClear's abuse-of-process claim, it did rule that OrthoClear could amend its lawsuit to include claims against individual Align sales representatives involved in defamatory or otherwise improper conduct.

“This is an important ruling for OrthoClear, because it confirms that Align Technology cannot avoid responsibility for conducting its business in a manner that is anti-competitive or for intentionally providing the marketplace with misinformation about OrthoClear,“ said Peter Riepenhausen, OrthoClear's chairman. He said his company's focus “has always been, and will continue to be, on providing a superior clear aligner product.“

Align also is suing OrthoClear, and originally filed a suit against that company and several of its officers in February 2005 (Medical Device Daily, Feb. 4, 2005).

Last month, Align reported that the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) has voted to institute an investigation of alleged patent infringement and trade secret misappropriation by OrthoClear and its subsidiaries. The ITC's decision, it said, is based on a complaint filed by Align in January.

In that complaint, Align alleges that OrthoClear utilizes Align's trade secrets and infringes 12 Align patents, comprising more than 200 patent claims, in the production of OrthoClear aligners at a facility in Lahore, Pakistan.

Align makes the Invisalign system, which corrects malocclusion using a series of clear, removable appliances that move teeth to a desired final position and does not rely on metal or ceramic brackets and wires. It received FDA clearance in 1998.