On April 3rd, the International Trade Commission (ITC) made its ruling in the patent infringement case Align filed against ClearCorrect. As a ClearCorrect provider, here’s what you need to know:
What was the decision?
The ITC reversed the majority of the adverse claims in ClearCorrect’s favor. Of the 7 patents and 40 claims at issue, the ITC found ClearCorrect did not infringe on 2 patents and 22 claims.
While most claims went our way, the Commission did find that we infringed 18 claims related to the digital data we receive from ClearCorrect Pakistan. As a result, the Commission issued an order to cease and desist importing that specific digital data. The order does not prevent us from continuing to make aligners.
Is it still safe to submit cases to ClearCorrect?
Yes. We will continue to make aligners for both new and existing cases. The only material restriction is on the importation of digital data that would infringe Align’s patents. While we still consider Align’s patents overly-broad and invalid, we’ve made adjustments to our process in order to comply with the ITC’s decision while we appeal it.
Will my current cases be interrupted or suspended mid-treatment?
No. The ITC has not made any ruling that would prevent us from completing any existing cases.
Well, why does Align keep saying I should be concerned?
That’s just Align being Align. They’ve been known to resort to these sorts of tactics in the past to get doctors to do what they want. This is just more of the same.
We maintain Align’s patents are overly-broad and invalid. That said—despite whatever Align represents to the contrary—the patents at issue do not cover every possible way of making aligners.
We’ve been making aligners for over seven years now. We’ve improved our process countless times along the way, and now we’ve made further adjustments to our process in anticipation of the ITC’s order. We can continue making aligners in full compliance with the ITC for the foreseeable future.
We’re not going anywhere.
Is the ITC decision final?
No. Like most court or agency decisions, the ITC’s determination can be appealed. We will appeal this decision to the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit as soon as we’re allowed to do so.
It isn’t uncommon for decisions in one court to be overturned by another. For instance, in Align’s patent litigation with Ormco Corp., the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled that key Align patents were invalid, reversing the lower District Court’s decision.
Patent litigation is a long process, even when conducted in the ITC (where things are supposed to move quickly). We’ve spent a couple years fighting our way through this case already and we expect at least another couple years before it’s ultimately decided.
Can I help invalidate Align’s patents?
Yes! Though we have mounds of prior art to support our arguments of invalidity, we’re happy to throw more on the pile. Here are the core topics and themes of the patents at issue:
- Making dental appliances.
- Thermoformed appliances.
- Orthodontic appliances.
- Using systems like 3D printers to print digital models.
- Treatment planning on a computer.
- Planning a goal for treatment before treatment begins.
- Digital dentistry or digital medicine.
If you know of any patents, papers, articles, documents, manuals, promotional materials, printed media of any kind, video, movies, TV programs, recorded lectures, transcripts, etc., that discussed any of the above topics or any related topics before October 1, 1996, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org with your name and contact info. We’d like to speak with you.