Fujifilm Sonosite sues Butterfly Network over POCUS patents

2019 10 31 21 55 4507 Gavel Legal Business 400

In a legal clash of point-of-care ultrasound (POCUS) titans, Fujifilm Sonosite has filed litigation against Butterfly Network charging that company with violating its patents for acquiring ultrasound images at the point of care with handheld scanners.

In a March 9 press release, Fujifilm Sonosite said it filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware, charging Butterfly with violating seven patents it holds pertaining to "fundamental technology" for acquiring ultrasound with POCUS systems.

The patents cover a variety of aspects of point-of-care ultrasound, including using a probe that is coupled to a mobile device, elements of a handheld scanner's graphical user interface, and technologies related to the processing and display of ultrasound images. The patents are U.S. Patent Nos. 7,169,108; 7,867,168; 8,128,050; 8,861,822; 9,538,985; 6,901,157; and 8,360,981.

Fujifilm Sonosite said it is seeking a variety of remedies from Butterfly, including damages related to the company's alleged "unauthorized use" of the patents, as well as manufacture, marketing, promotion, and sale of Butterfly's iQ and iQ+ POCUS scanners.

Sonosite's origins come from a grant issued in the 1990s by the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to ATL Ultrasound to develop a handheld scanner for battlefield medicine applications. That project later evolved into a standalone company that was spun off from ATL by an executive team led by Kevin Goodwin

Sonosite launched its first commercial scanner in 1998. SonoSite was later acquired by Fujifilm in a deal completed in 2012.

Fujifilm Sonosite has successfully defended its patient technology in the past. In 2006, Sonosite won a case against patent holding company Neutrino Development. SonoSite has also defended its patents against GE Healthcare.

For its part, Butterfly Network was founded in 2011 by serial entrepreneur Jonathan Rothberg, PhD, who developed next-generation DNA sequencing. The company received U.S. Food and Drug Administration clearance in 2017 for its Butterfly iQ scanner, a handheld system that sells commercially for under $2,000.

Butterfly went public in 2000 through a merger with Longview Acquisition, a special-purpose acquisition company (SPAC). In recent weeks, the company has been hit with a number of shareholder lawsuits following a decline in its stock price.

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