DR Systems hits PACS firms with patent suit

By Brian Casey, AuntMinnie.com staff writer

October 7, 2008 -- PACS software developer DR Systems has hit several competitors with a patent lawsuit, charging them with violating its patents covering image management software. The lawsuit is the latest round in the San Diego firm's long campaign to assert its patents in the PACS market.

DR Systems filed the lawsuit on September 22 in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California against Emageon of Birmingham, AL; eRad of Greenville, SC; and NovaRad of American Fork, UT. The lawsuit charges the firms with violating patent No. 5,452,416, "Automated System and Method for Organizing, Presenting, and Manipulating Medical Images," issued in September 1995.

The patent covers the development of software for organizing and viewing medical images that represents an advancement over current practice in use at the time, according to the patent application. Image viewing systems at that time identified and processed images for storage and presentation without correlation to other images in their respective sequences, and they did not provide for concurrent presentation of related image series, the application states.

In addition, available image storage systems at the time were "awkward and difficult to use, providing little in the way of means for direct manipulation of image presentation formats and images which displayed for analysis." The patent application goes on to describe a method that would enable radiologists to store, retrieve, and view images in a more flexible manner that permits direct manipulation of both the way images are presented and of the images themselves.

The invention would use multiple display areas for showing images, with images partitioned into image groups, and in turn into image series that represent a succession of images of an anatomical target. An image series can be displayed in the order of its sequence on each display, and two related image series can be presented at the same time.

In an example of the invention in practice, the patent application describes how the software would display two series of MR images from the same patient, one an axial T1 series and the other an axial T2 series. The software also could display a related third image series, a sagittal sequence.

Patent documents also describe a process in which radiologists can customize the way they view images with the software, also known as hanging protocols. Images can be formatted for display in accordance with the preferences of the radiologist, and images can be output from the software according to the preferences of referring physicians.

DR Systems has asserted its patent portfolio in the last several years, after announcing in 2001 that it was retaining a law firm with intellectual property experience. The company said at the time that it was amenable to licensing the patent to other PACS firms.

Representatives for DR Systems declined to comment on the litigation as of press time, as did Emageon and eRad. Representatives for NovaRad declined to comment specifically on the litigation but did state that their company's software dates back to 1989, when it was first unveiled to the public.

"The NovaRad software contains many firsts for the PACS industry, including dynamic cursor and voice annotation, full utilization of the mouse in image manipulation, paper printing, viewer on a 32-bit Windows operating system, utilization of all off-the-shelf hardware, and the utilization of a seven-year onsite, online archive," said John Fowler, chief operating officer. "Our interest is to improve the quality of care and to benefit our customers through best-of-breed PACS and RIS products. We believe that our product stands on its own merits."

By Brian Casey
AuntMinnie.com staff writer
October 7, 2008

DR Systems reaches Meditech milestone, May 21, 2008

DR Systems lands $3.2 million in RIS/PACS contracts, April 1, 2008

DR Systems lands nine contracts, March 18, 2008

DR Systems nets Premier contract, November 14, 2007

Road to RSNA, DR Systems, October 25, 2007

Copyright © 2008 AuntMinnie.com


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