British innovator James Dyson once said, "If you didn't have patents, no one would bother to spend money on research and development." The problem lies when established corporations prey on the inventions of smaller firms and sole entrepreneurs, stealing trade secrets before the latter can protect their innovations and intellectual property.
Powerful corporations have used this "efficient infringement" strategy, threatening inventors who develop exceptional products or services with concrete market value. Such is the case with the ongoing trial of Better Life Technologies Group, Inc. (BLTG), a small African-American technology company, against an American integrated managed care consortium.
BTLG is an innovative company whose ethos centers on employing out-of-the-box solutions that address persisting challenges in the wireless wearable technology industry. One of its missions is to improve accessibility to life-saving technologies by lowering costs, all while promoting sustainability within the broader technological landscape.
The Better Life Technologies Group alleges that the healthcare giant unlawfully appropriated its trade secrets related to wearable medical devices. In federal court, the latter was accused of breaching a nondisclosure agreement signed in 2012 about "a patent for technology for a wireless wearable device designed for patients suffering from diabetes, heart conditions, and other medical conditions requiring monitoring" and establishing business ties with BTLG's competitors to develop wearable medical devices, generating income in the process.
By doing so, the healthcare provider and insurer potentially and unethically contributed to the growth of the industry, which is now valued in the billion-dollar range. It is worth noting that BLTG's patented technology (US 8,659,432 B2) covers human monitoring in aquatic environments and patient monitoring applications in healthcare settings and homes.
George McKinney, the president and CEO of BTLG, remarked, "Our representatives initiated discussions with the healthcare provider's C-level officers between 2011 and 2012. We had multiple meetings about our physician-to-patient wireless-wearable communication technologies. The other party signed a non-compete, non-disclosure agreement with us through our sister company, ViQUAL Medical. We already had prototypes at that time but were looking for funding to bring them to the market." Hoping that its collaboration with the medical industry giant would facilitate the successful launch of its technology and devices, McKinney and its representatives put their trust in the latter.
The story of Robert Eisenman, the founder of Global Life-Line, Inc., is embedded within BTLG's narrative as he was victimized by the disregard for innovators’ rights. Eisenman's invention, initially known as Safekey, was created after his life-altering injury as a national-level ski racer. His journey to recovery brought the conceptualization of a safety solution, which evolved into a groundbreaking concept incorporated by major automotive players. Unfortunately, external forces like economic downturns and corporate restructuring presented setbacks. Undeterred by the challenges, Eisenman adapted his invention into Safe Card. A turning point in his narrative occurred when one of Eisenman's engineers, after years of unexplained absence, resurfaced amid a legal deposition and admitted his unauthorized use of Eisenman's intellectual property. This revelation not only exposes corporate misdeeds but also highlights the challenges faced by inventors when collaborators betray trust.
Studies show that firms standing at a crossroads between disclosing trade secrets and acquiring temporary monopoly for marketing their inventions opens the discussion surrounding choosing between patenting and secrecy, which is influenced by various factors, such as the nature of innovation, the ease of imitation, and competitor strategies.
Ultimately, Eisenman and McKinney's legal battles underscore the hurdles faced by inventors in safeguarding their creations from corporate giants. The resolution of this case may shape future conversations around intellectual property, legal accountability, and the power dynamics inherent in the industry.
Following this, it is significant to highlight that the primary objective of most healthcare services and technology companies is to help individuals receive the support and care they need. Witnessing technical innovation becoming integral to healthcare services, innovative technology companies make it their mission to bridge these gaps.
McKinney and Eisenman, two visionaries in the medical and technological industry, emphasize the immense significance of advancing technologies to help people become better caretakers of those who need them. McKinney shared, "My father died in the hospital after falling out of his bed and fracturing his neck. I believe that if there were a second set of eyes, he would still be alive today." This is a testament to the importance of innovation in providing patient-centric care.
Name: Robert C Eisenman
Email: [email protected]