3M sues IBM Watson Health over software use

3M filed a lawsuit in New York federal court on Jan. 31 alleging that IBM Watson Health has used 3M's healthcare software "in unauthorized ways" and underpaid 3M for that usage, according to court documents unsealed on Feb. 7.

The lawsuit concerns 3M's Grouper Plus System software, which offers cloud-based processing for claims and other coded data to help calculate reimbursement. The GPS software is not only used by healthcare providers and payers, but is also licensed by business partners to "analyze processed data for their clients, sell healthcare analytics software products … and generate more refined analyses without expending substantial time, money and effort," according to the documents.

3M alleges in the lawsuit that Truven, a company acquired by IBM Watson Health in 2016, has been "exploiting and improperly profiting from its unauthorized and unpaid-for uses" of the software since signing two initial licensing agreements in 2007.

3M also accuses IBM of refusing to cooperate with 3M's audit of Truven's software usage and of integrating the GPS software into IBM Watson Health's own platforms without an explicit license transfer or extension upon the Truven acquisition.

According to the lawsuit, 3M is therefore suing IBM on counts of direct copyright infringement; breach of contract, per Truven's original software distribution and data processing agreements; and breach of good faith and fair dealing.

3M is seeking a permanent injunction preventing IBM from using or distributing 3M's GPS software, as well as repayment of all profits Truven and IBM made from the allegedly unlawful use of 3M's software, among other damages.

In a statement sent to Becker's Hospital Review by Douglas Shelton, IBM's director of corporate communications and external relations, IBM said, "We met the terms of the agreement. IBM will defend against these distorted claims."

Becker's Hospital Review has reached out to 3M for comment and will update this article with any response.

Editor's note: This article was updated at 10:15 a.m. to include a statement from IBM.

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