AirStrip Technologies (@drpowell777) was recently awarded its first patent by the USPTO.

Almost immediately the company has made it clear to the marketplace they have every intention of leveraging this with other intellectual property they develop to use the court system to eliminate/intimidate their competition.

The company has filed its first patent infringement suit less than 60-days after it was issued against Camden, NJ-based mVisum.

Apparently, San Antonio, TX-based AirStrip has reached a point in their business development where they have decided to begin aggressively and unilaterally filing patent litigation against those competitors who are unwilling to license the AirStrip application. To me this seems a bit premature, and may simply be wholly predatory in their motivation, but I find it difficult to see why this is in the best interests of mHealth innovation.

“AirStrip has a responsibility to exercise its patent protection in ways that rapidly drive the evolution of mHealth in a uniform and positive direction,” said AirStrip CEO Alan Portela in a press release. “AirStrip respects the intellectual property of others, and will vigorously defend our own. Such action is not taken lightly, but we feel it is in the best interest of providers, our partners, and ultimately, patients.”

You will notice below that Portela is careful not to claim that it is in the interests of innovation. Instead they claim it will “rapidly drive the evolution of mHealth in a uniform and positive direction”. If you replace “mHealth” with “software” you might as well be quoting Bill Gates during the battles over Internet Explorer and Microsoft’s monopoly on access to the Internet.

I interviewed Alan Portela earlier this year and was impressed by his vision for the company. Thinking back on that interview, Portela did repeatedly mention how he thought October 2012 was going to be a big month for AirStrip and the industry generally because of the implementation of the new Accountable Care Organization (ACO) standards, which is sure to begin undermining provider business models sooner than later. Obviously he believes now is also the time to begin litigating its intellectual property, for better or worse.

AirStrip President and Chief Medical Officer Cameron Powell, MD, said, “AirStrip is committed to working in partnership with health systems, medical technology vendors and application developers to more quickly evolve mobility as the foundation for clinical transformation. A more unified effort will ensure the evolution of best practices, reduce fragmentation, and drive the overall delivery of mobile applications that align with emerging standards. This will ultimately result in improved patient outcomes and better ensure patient safety.”

In the press release the company released shortly after learning of the patent award it becomes quite clear they were intent for the start to begin aggressively litigating those unwilling to fall in line.

Companies, health systems and application developers that have mobility solutions available or in development that display patient physiologic data – including numeric data, waveforms, and other parameters – are encouraged to work with AirStrip to more quickly evolve mobility as the foundation for clinical transformation.

mVisum is perhaps the most direct competitor to AirStrip and recently announced a big deal with Philips to incorporate their STEMI Alert app into the Philips TraceMasterVue and IntelliSpace ECG management systems. The startup has its own intellectual property for the handling of patient data on mobile devices, but it appears to cover mostly the securing of data during transmission and little to do with the visualization of the data.

I must admit, the screenshots of its products (see below) are difficult to discern from screenshots of the AirStrip products.