Chief Judge Leonard P. Stark has denied Align Technology’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit that 3Shape filed against it for allegedly acting illegally to block competition for scanners and orthodontic treatment, including clear aligners.
The lawsuit, 3Shape TRIPS A/S versus Align Technology Inc, was filed in the United States District Court for the District of Delaware on August 28, 2018.
“3Shape believes that this ruling clearly shows that our claims against Align for monopoly abuse in the United States have merit, Align’s anticompetitive behavior needs to stop, and we are now even more confident that the court will agree with us in its final verdict,” said Jakob Just-Bomholt, CEO of 3Shape.
3Shape alleges that Align’s conduct has harmed competition in the intraoral scanner for orthodontic treatment and clear aligner markets by excluding rivals, increasing barriers to entry, and imposing costs on rivals. This conduct makes it more difficult for rivals to compete, 3Shape continued, resulting in less consumer choice and higher consumer cost.
These higher costs fall on the doctors who need to purchase intraoral scanners and provide clear aligners as well as on patients who seek affordable clear aligner treatment, 3Shape said. As a result, many people are paying more than necessary or missing out on treatment that isn’t affordable to them, 3Shape said.
“It appears that the last thing Align wants is for dentists and patients to have choices or save money,” said Just-Bomholt. “Their only goal is to maintain their market monopoly to preserve high margins and benefit Align shareholders.”
In the lawsuit, 3Shape is accusing Align of illegally holding on to its monopoly by blocking 3Shape’s scanners from being used in the fitting of Align’s Invisalign clear aligners, blocking dentists from choosing any other scanner than Align’s iTero for clear aligner treatments. By forcing dentists to use Align’s iTero scanner with Invisalign, 3Shape said, Align is creating for all intents and purposes impenetrable closed markets that obstruct competition.
According to 3Shape, its TRIOS intraoral scanner has been named the best intraoral scanner in the industry for eight years in a row. The TRIOS also has been named the most accurate scanner in various independent studies, 3Shape said, adding that the TRIOS is the world’s only wireless intraoral scanner as well.
Unlike Align’s scanner, 3Shape continued, the TRIOS is an open platform that directly interfaces with multiple clear aligner and orthodontic solution providers, allowing dentists and patients to choose the best treatment solution for each case while ultimately driving down costs.
“3Shape believes in cooperation between dental solution providers to give doctors and patients more treatment options so that they can make choices according to the specific case and budget. This is how we see the dental industry evolving for the benefit of doctors as well as their patients,” said Just-Bomholt.