University of Washington and GE in patent fight

by Brendon Nafziger, DOTmed News Associate Editor | December 07, 2010
University of Washington took General Electric Company to federal court last month in a dispute over patents for integrating ultrasound and MRI or CT images.

In its complaint filed in Washington Western District Court on Nov. 30, the Seattle university claims the GE Healthcare division infringed on its patent for technology which integrates real-time ultrasound images with previously acquired MRI or CT scans, according to an Xconomy summary of the case. The technology could be useful for brain surgeries, the university said.

The university accuses GE of using the technology in its Logiq E9 ultrasound system, launched in September 2008. In the complaint, the university says it received U.S. patent 6,775,404 for the technology in August 2004, and that GE has known about the patent since at least June 2009, according to Xconomy's report.
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GE was the market leader in the $1.2 billion U.S. ultrasound market last year, according to a Sept. 28 Millennium Research Group report. MRG analysts credited Logiq E9 and the company's Venue 40 systems with helping it achieve 27 percent market share in emerging ultrasound markets, up from only 10 percent in 2007.

A university spokesman told Xconomy that the company had funded research at the school and donated equipment in the past, but that the two groups disagree on whether GE needs to pay for a license for the ultrasound technology.

GE said it does not comment on pending lawsuits.