3Shape has filed a lawsuit against Align Technology for allegedly acting illegally to block competition in the marketplace for scanners for orthodontic treatment, including clear aligners. The lawsuit, 3Shape TRIOS A/S v Align Technology, Inc, was filed in the US District Court for the District of Delaware.
“Align is illegally holding on to their monopoly of clear aligners after expiry of many of their patents, by effectively forcing dental professionals to buy Align’s intraoral scanner, which, with regard to clear aligners and for most practical purposes, is only used for Align’s own clear aligner product Invisalign,” said Wendelynne J. Newton, counsel for 3Shape.
Align is the manufacturer of the Invisalign brand of clear aligners for orthodontic treatment and the iTero intraoral scanner. As Align’s patents for Invisalign have already begun to expire, 3Shape said, four other dental companies are now offering alternative clear aligner products.
Also, 3Shape said, its own TRIOS is the world’s only wireless intraoral scanner and has become a favorite among doctors for restorative treatment and for clear aligners, competing with the iTero scanner and prompting a series of anticompetitive actions by Align.
According to the lawsuit, Align is trying to hold onto its monopoly in clear aligners by blocking the use of the TRIOS in the fitting of Invisalign and thereby effectively preventing dentists from choosing any other scanner than the iTero for clear aligner treatments. Furthermore, Align’s Invisalign GO Treatment system also is only accessible with the iTero.
“3Shape believes in fair competition and in giving doctors choices rather than limiting them. Align’s behavior represents the opposite of how 3Shape sees the dental industry should evolve for the benefit of doctors and their patients,” said Lars Christian Lund, vice president, corporate business development and marketing at 3Shape.
“More and more dentists are expressing outrage at Align’s methods that ultimately make their services more expensive for their patients,” Lund said.
Unlike the iTero, 3Shape said, the TRIOS is an open platform that directly interfaces with multiple clear aligner and orthodontic solution providers. The open platform lets dentists and patients choose the best treatment solution for each case while driving down costs, 3Shape noted, while limiting Invisalign to the iTero scanner creates a closed market and obstructs competition.