California judge tosses patent infringement case against Cerner

Legal Review
Cerner ducked a patent infringement lawsuit after a California judge ruled CliniComp's patent already expired. (iStock-BrianAJackson)

A California judge has dismissed a patent infringement case against Cerner, ruling a patent held by another EHR vendor, CliniComp, expired two weeks before the complaint was filed.

However, the judge is permitting CliniComp to file an amended complaint within the next three weeks. 

It’s one of two ongoing legal spats the San Diego-based EHR vendor has initiated with Cerner. Last year, CliniComp challenged a no-bid decision by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to contract with Cerner to overhaul the system's EHR platform. A federal judged dismissed the initial complaint, but CliniComp appealed.

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Months later, CliniComp filed a patent infringement case against the EHR giant alleging Cerner’s Millenium system uses “remotely hosted turnkey healthcare applications” that mirrors the technology in CliniComp’s patent, initially filed in November 1997.

RELATED: CliniComp offers to drop its lawsuit against the VA pending an interoperability benchmark test

Patents hold a 20-year term, which means CliniComp’s patent expired two weeks before the complaint was filed, according to (PDF) Gonzalo Curiel, a judge for the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of California.

The court also dismissed CliniComp’s request for permanent injunctive relief and treble damages. The company has until June 4 to file an amended complaint. A CliniComp spokesperson did not immediately return a request for comment.

Update: A CliniComp spokesperson told FierceHealthcare the ruling was largely in Clinicomp's favor, noting that Cerner never challenged the issue of patent infringement, but focused only on when the patent expired. The spokesperson did not specify whether the company plans to file an amended complaint.