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US: Google enters unlikely braces patent case

 |  April 3, 2014

Google and the Motion Picture Association of America are reportedly using a current patent infringement lawsuit regarding invisible teeth straightening technology to argue their own sides as to whether the International Trade Commission should have the power to block imports of virtual products found to have infringed on patents in the US, just as they can block physical product imports.

According to reports, both Google and the film group have filed comments to the ITC on the ongoing braces lawsuit, in which Align Technology argues that rival ClearCorrect Operations is infringing on its patents. Align Technology, which makes Invisalign, wants the ITC to block ClearCorrect from transmitting computerized dental plans from Pakistan into a 3-D printer in the US on grounds it violates Align’s intellectual property, reports say.

A judge last year found that ClearCorrect was in violation of six of Align’s patents, reports say, but the ITC has yet to issue a ruling on whether to block the dental plan transmissions as they represent a virtual product, not a physical one.

The stakes have been raised in the invisible braces case now that Google and the film group have gotten involved.

The MPAA argues that virtual products should be included in the law, hoping to curb movie and music bootleggers that have moved to digital copies of products instead of physical ones.

But Google argues that the law should remain as-is, and that the law that gives the ability to block patent-infringing product imports did not include digital products even when the legislation was revised in the 1980s.

The rivaling groups have now weighed-in with their opinions in the teeth straightening case, which already has major implications for Align, as 93 percent of its revenue last year depended on that Invisalign product.

Full Content: Businessweek

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