A new lawsuit intensifies the rivalry between clear aligner companies. The two companies involved in the federal lawsuit are 3Shape and Align Technology. The suit is specifically against Align Technology for allegedly illegally blocking the competition in the marketplace for scanners for orthodontic treatment.
Align Technology is the manufacturer that makes Invisalign brand clear aligners. The California-based company also created the iTero intraoral scanner that is used to create Invisalign aligners.
The company 3Shape alleges that Align Technology is illegally forcing dental professionals to purchase Aligns intraoral scanner and holding on to their Monopoly of clear aligners.
The company 3Shape is also alleging that Align Technology is prohibiting competition that would result in increased choices for patients at less of a cost.
Align Technologies announced last month that they decided to terminate their Invisalign interoperability contract with the Denmark-based company 3Shape. Align also advised they will no longer accept digital scans for new Invisalign treatment from TRIOS scanners. The company made the decision due to two lawsuits it launched against the company 3Shape, which includes six patent infringement lawsuits that asserted 3Shape’s TRIOS Intraoral scanning system along with dental system software which infringed on Aligns patents.
As soon as 3Shape learned of the lawsuit against them they responded with their own lawsuit against Align Technologies. The counter-lawsuit claims that iTero elements scanner infringed 3Shape ’s own patented technology. Co-CEO and co-founder Tais Clausen of 3Shape revealed in a statement posted on the company’s website, “ We cannot allow competitors to copy our hard-earned technology breakthroughs or infringe our patents. Normally, because we believe in cooperation and openness, we would try to settle this directly and quietly with Align. However, recent events and aggressive actions by Align, not only towards 3Shape but also actions affecting doctors using TRIOS with Invisalign, compel us to vigorously defend our intellectual property by filing this complaint in the federal district court.”
Align Technology was contacted multiple times for a response. The company did not respond to the numerous requests for comment, but a representative responded to email questions. Vice president of corporate and communications for Align Technology, Shirley Stacy replied that less than 1% of their dentist was affected by the discontinued acceptance of TRIOS scanners buy Align Technology.
“It is very important that we protect [our] investment by defending our intellectual property where third parties like 3Shape infringe it,” Ms. Stacy wrote. “We must do this to protect both Align’s investment in technology, and the investment Align customers have made in our products and services. Align does not and never will allow or endorse unlawful competition, and that’s what we would be doing by continuing to accept scans from U.S.-based TRIOS scanners. Align believes in a fair and lawful marketplace and there is nothing fair about a competitor copying Align’s patented technology.”
The outcome of the lawsuits is expected to resolve the situation between the two companies.
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Dr. Jacquie Smiles began her career in orthodontics dentistry at Boston University and became the first female Director of B.U.’s Predoctoral Orthodontic Department. Since then she has become an expert in orthodontics and opened several offices in New York and New Jersey.
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