The U.S. International Trade Commission agreed to launch an investigation into Align Technology’s (NSDQ:ALGN) patent infringement claims against overseas competitor ClearCorrect Pakistan and a U.S. affiliate, ClearCorrect Operating.
Align accused the pair of importing data sets used to make braces that infringe 7 patents relating to Align’s Invisalign transparent orthodontic mouthpieces.
The ITC granted Align’s request, filed last month, for an investigation into the orthodontic planning and implementation practices at ClearCorrect’s facility in Lahore, Pakistan, after Align said it had uncovered the alleged infringement during the discovery phase of a prior lawsuit involving the same patents.
"Align has invested millions of dollars in developing its technology and intellectual property and we will use every legal tool available to defend and protect that investment against infringement," legal affairs and general counsel vice president Roger George said in prepared remarks.
The agency will also review the company’s request for a cease-and-desist order preventing ClearCorrect from using "digital data representing orthodontic treatment" and selling aligners manufactured using the contested treatment plans.
In addition to the investigation, Align also asked the ITC to provide enforcement of an existing consent order, granted by the agency in 2006, alleging patent infringement by directors and managers of another Pakistan dental device company, OrthoClear.
Align claims certain former OrthoClear employees shifted to ClearCorrect and are perpetuating the same violations, a connection that was also uncovered in discovery for the lawsuit in which Align is seeking monetary damages and an injunction against further infringement.
ALGN stock was trading 2% higher to $29.28 as of about 2 p.m. today.