This article originally appeared in the Principles of Practice Management e-newsletter. Subscribe to this informative twice monthly practice management ENL here.At the end of this month (January 31, 2018) you will no longer be able to send TRIOS (3Shape) digital scans for Invisalign appliances in the United States. The reason is that Invisalign is currently suing 3Shape for 26 instances of patent infringement in the US. According to MarketInsider.com, a representative for Invisalign stated, “The last thing we want is to impact our customers and their practices. However, Align will not allow competitors to copy our products and their features or infringe our patents, nor can we continue to accept scans from US-based TRIOS scanners that infringe our patents. We will vigorously defend our intellectual property, whether it relates to clear aligners, dental scanners, or digital dentistry more broadly.” The announcement to cease accepting TRIOS scans came as a surprise to 3Shape. In a response on their website, 3Shape executives claimed to have no knowledge that Align Technology would terminate their agreement, partly because the ongoing litigation has nothing to do with the compatibility of the TRIOS scanner. This leaves only the CEREC Omnicam (Dentsply Sirona), True Definition (3M), and of course, the iTero (Align Technology) as possible scanners for use with Invisalign.
Align Technology has made other bold moves during the past two years. As we’ve reported, Align has an investment in and manufacturing relationship with SmileDirectClub, an at-home orthodontic aligner service. Also of note, Align recently announced a pilot program to open an Invisalign storefront in San Francisco, in which potential patients can be scanned, apply for financing, and then referred to an Invisalign provider.
Like any company, Align Technology is seeking to grow its client base and protect itself from future competition. Align holds hundreds of patents in the US and abroad, but those are expected to expire at the rate of approximately 23 per year through 2028. So their competition will be getting tougher, especially as dentists gain confidence in creating their own aligners with 3-D printers. Will Align be able to grow the company without upsetting their dentist users? Will they even need dentists in the future? Stay tuned . . .
MORE OP-EDS FROM CHRIS SALIERNO
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Invisalign’s relationship with SmileDirectClub
The Delta Dental fight in Massachusetts
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