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Verasonics files suit against Supersonic Imagine

by Thomas Dworetzky , Contributing Reporter
Verasonics has sued French ultrasound equipment maker Supersonic Imagine in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington.

The original complaint was filed in late 2017 and claims that Supersonic is infringing patents on Verasonics’ software beamforming architecture in its Aixplorer ultrasound systems.

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The U.S. firm also alleges that Supersonic Imagine “misappropriated” its trade secrets in the Aixplorer platform. The software at issue permits ultrasound clinical features such as quantitative Doppler measurements to assess blood flow, whole breast imaging to screen women with dense breasts, and novel imaging techniques to evaluate and quantitatively measure tissue stiffness of possible cancers.

“We will always protect our intellectual property,” Lauren Pflugrath, president and CEO of Verasonics said in a statement provided to HCB News. “Verasonics values the collaborations we have with companies around the globe, but we must stand up against anyone infringing on our IP [intellectual property].”

The French firm was licensed to use its proprietary technology, but that permission expired in 2014. At that point, claims Verasonics, Supersonic Imagine just kept on using the patented and trade-secret technology without a license. Verasonics seeks monetary damages and injunctive relief, which would block marketing sales and development of any Aixplorer-platform products.

SuperSonic Imagine had, in October, 2017, introduced the latest version of its premium ultrasound system, Aixplorer Ultimate, for the first time at Journées Francophones de Radiologie (JFR 2017), hosted by the Société Française de Radiologie, in Paris, France.

That model had a variety of technological features for enhancing the possibility of new and noninvasive imaging modalities in the detection and treatment of breast and liver diseases, using ultrasound guidance to increase reliability for interventional procedures while improving patient safety and comfort.

Many firms worldwide use the technology of privately held, Kirkland, Washington-based Verasonics. And this is not the first time the company has had to go to court concerning patent issues.

In August, 2017, it won a final award of more than $5.6 million in a Washington State binding arbitration, from Seoul-based Alpinion Medical Systems, which had breached non-disclosure and lease agreements and misappropriated trade secrets.

"We are grateful for the arbitrator's decision to issue the Final Award so clearly in our favor," Pflugrath said at the time, adding that, "we continue to expand and build positive collaborative partnerships, but must insist on protecting our intellectual property.”

Alpinion was also blocked from selling its E-Cube 12 research ultrasound for five years.

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