NJ Inventors Take on Apple in Patent Suit

Photo: Robert Guinta is the developer at the heart of the suit against Apple. Photo Credit: Courtesy Albert Moran
Robert Guinta is the developer at the heart of the suit against Apple. | Courtesy Albert Moran

In late April, Hillsdale-based LMG 3 Marketing and Development Corp filed a suit against Apple. The suit involves Apple’s recently introduced Health app and HealthKit products.

LMG isn’t a patent troll. The company was created by three Bergen County inventors, one of them a local software developer.

The three founders of LMG — Michael Lubell, Albert Moran Jr. and Robert Guinta —  put thousands of hours into developing their product, and they now believe that their core technology was co-opted by Apple.

Specifically, the suit alleges that Apple’s Health app and HealthKit include platforms that use technology developed and patented by the inventors. The two patents in question are 8,195,480 and 8,195,479.

The gist of the case is described well in the two articles linked here:

Apple Hit With Patent Suit Over Health App (registration may be required)

Inventors of Medical Apps Sue Apple over HealthKit and Health App

NJTechWeekly.com spoke to two of the founders of LMG and their lawyer, Brian O’Reilly, of O’Reilly IP (New York).

Photo: Albert Moran Photo Credit: Courtesy Albert Moran
Albert Moran | Courtesy Albert Moran

The idea for the software and device the company patented originated in a conversation between Al Moran and Mike Lubell, colleagues who had been discussing some of their past experiences. “We both had relationships with people in our families who had medical issues,” Moran said, and Lubell himself had had several knee surgeries.

 “It was relevant to me because my dad had multiple open heart and other heart surgeries” and he needed to keep a lot of information with him, Moran explained. “Having the right information was important, and the amount of data he had to carry was significant.” 

“We thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be useful to get all the information into something portable and easy to carry?’”

Lubell knew developer Rob Guinta, and the three of them got together in 2002 to brainstorm the invention and establish LMG. “When Michael and Al came to me, they explained the concept. I created the software application, refining it over years,” Guinta recalled. “I spent thousands of hours developing the specifics, using a lot of input from physicians, EMTs and other health professionals.”

As they were developing their device, one of Moran’s relatives had an experience that cost her many days in the hospital because she did not have access to her medical information while on a trip, and was given medication that interfered with some medication she was already taking.

According to the suit, it wasn’t easy to create a prototype device that could keep data secure yet quickly accessible to authorized users. The inventors also knew that they had to “find a way to make the device compatible with the various types of record management software and hardware used by healthcare providers,” wrote Zack Needles in the New Jersey Law Journal.

Moran said that the device had to use an executable program. Back in the day, that wasn’t so easy, but they were able to develop a USB device that could execute a program, and that also had nonvolatile memory.

Guinta said that, over the years, the group had transitioned the application from a USB device to a smartphone application.

As it turned out, Moran’s father was one of the first users of the device, carrying the prototype with him whenever he traveled.

According to Patent US 8,195,480, published June 5, 2012, this “invention comprises a portable, secure, self-contained memory device that in combination with MyRECS copyrighted software is designed to store, update and display personal medical information. The MyRECS device is a small hand carried device which is connectible to the USB port of a computer or reader adapter. Access to the medical information is provided by a unique password. Medical information stored in the device cannot be deleted or changed—it can only be appended.

“The MyRECS device stores personal information, emergency contact information along with reports, referral letters, images, medications, immunizations, medical conditions, allergies, surgeries, medical alerts, and any other pertinent information required to treat a person correctly. Each device is registered to a particular individual and the information is kept in a secure encrypted database. In an emergency, if the user is incapacitated, an 800 phone number may be used to unlock the device and view the information.”

Moran said that they had had a bit of commercial success with the product. There was an EMT organization serving a dense retirement community in Florida that was looking for this information. “We sold a significant number of the devices to this group.”  

The company marketed the device through its website and on elsewhere on the Web, and hired a marketing company to help with on air TV opportunities.

All the while, the company was trying to engage hospitals groups, pharmaceutical groups and insurance companies to adopt their idea. As many entrepreneurs have found out, large companies are often reluctant to deal with startups, even those with great technologies, for fear that they won’t be there in the future or aren’t big enough to serve their user base. The suit alleges that LMG presented its technology to several medical institutions that later became early adopters of both the Apple Health app and HealthKit.

Photo: Attorney Brian O'Reilly Photo Credit: Courtesy Brian O'Reilly
Attorney Brian O'Reilly | Courtesy Brian O'Reilly

NJTechWeekly.com asked the founders how they felt about taking on Apple in the courts. “It is a definitely a daunting feeling since we are a small New Jersey business,” Moran said. “However, we feel that Apple is using our technology.” He added that the founders are seeking the recognition in the field, in the industry and from Apple that they invented this technology.

O’Reilly reiterated that the founders were looking for recognition of their contributions. Once that happened, the monetary issues would take care of themselves, he said.  “I think that it’s important to realize that, just because you are a small company, it doesn’t mean that you can’t stand up to big international companies.” It’s important for companies like LMG to assert their rights, he added.

Two out of the three founders still live in New Jersey. Lubell has relocated to North Carolina.

[Updating this story. According to Brian O’Reilly, the suit was settled amicably. He would provide no further information. 4/19/2016]

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