Athenahealth files patent lawsuit against smaller health IT rival CareCloud

You had to figure it was only a matter of time after health IT startup CareCloud arrived on the scene from Miami last month before the firm would end up in a fight with local rival Athenahealth.

But it would have been tough to guess that the dustup would have happened so quickly – or in the federal courthouse a few blocks away from CareCloud’s new office on Wormwood Street in South Boston.

Athenahealth (Nasdaq: ATHN), the Watertown-based provider of electronic medical record services, filed a patent infringement suit against CareCloud last week. Athenahealth claims CareCloud’s Central and Concierge products infringe on an Athenahealth patent dating back to 2000 for a medical practice management system that helps reduce errors in the insurance claims that doctors file.

CareCloud’s infringing software and services, Athenahealth claims, have caused Athenahealth substantial damages already and will continue to cause the company irreparable harm.

The lawsuit is short on details, though. It’s not clear just how much money Athenahealth is losing to its smaller, Florida-based rival, because of these competing products, or what about them is so similar to Athenahealth’s existing electronic medical records software and services. Presumably, this will eventually come out during the court case — at least if this thing ever makes it to a jury trial.

Athenahealth’s spokeswoman told me the company wouldn’t talk about the lawsuit, saying it’s corporate policy not to comment pending litigation. A spokeswoman for Wolf Greenfield, Athenahealth’s law firm in the case, also declined to comment.

They weren’t much more talkative over at CareCloud. Spokesman John Hallock, one of several former Athenahealth employees now on CareCloud’s executive team, declined to comment as well. But he did provide a brief statement to me from CareCloud CEO Albert Santalo that managed to get in a subtle dig: “To the best of our knowledge, CareCloud is not infringing on Athenahealth’s 13-year outdated method and we won’t be making any additional comment at this time.”


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