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GE files lawsuit against DEXA, claiming copyright infringement

by Gus Iversen , Editor in Chief
GE Healthcare is reportedly taking legal action against DEXA founder, Benjamin Williams, claiming that his company unlawfully provided software upgrades to GE's bone densitometry equipment.

The suit was filed at the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin last Tuesday and alleges copyright and trademark infringement, as well as unfair competition, false advertising and breach of contract.

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According to a report on World Intellectual Property Review, a legal news site, GE is making the case that Williams took unfair advantage of special equipment knowledge he gained during his time as a GE employee.

The issues stem from the enCORE bone densitometry software, which is provided to customers with a unique feature code that decrypts certain capabilities to enable a set of scanner functions specialized for that customer, according to the report.

The suit alleges that Williams got access to a bone densitometer in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, four years ago and had been copying and disseminating the software from that device without authorization. In August of this year the software was reportedly copied onto a densitometer in Stoughton, Wisconsin, resulting in problems with the scanner's functionality.

Williams did not respond to a request for comment.

In addition to these claims, GE is also taking DEXA to task over the use of the GE logo on its website and documents, on the basis that it misleads customers to assume the company provides "bona fide GE Healthcare services, when it does not."

In October, Alpha Source, a Milwaukee-based technology management company, was designated by GE as the only OEM-authorized service provider for GE's bone densitometry equipment.

In July, GE issued a statement calling for medical equipment brokers and resellers to be aware that not all the software on its CT or MR systems can necessarily be bundled into the sale of the equipment itself.

The OEM decided to notify resellers of the policy in response to learning that some equipment was changing hands with the non-transferable software still on it. Mark Emery, General Manager of Equipment of Lifecycle Solutions & Accessories for GE Healthcare, described the notice as an opportunity to "re-educate" the parties who might not be aware of the terms or were overlooking them.

The relationships between OEMs and third-party medical equipment stakeholders is at the middle of a discussion taking place at the FDA. While some companies and individuals are hoping to refine the definitions of terms relating to third-party refurbishment and service, others warned that if such discussions yield new regulations it could hurt competition and unnecessarily increase costs on hospitals already receiving safe and dependable service.

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