Orthodontist sued for $28M

Gavel Money Lawsuit

Align Technology recently filed a $28 million lawsuit in U.S. court against an orthodontist claiming that he lures patients to his practice in Oregon with promises of treatment with Invisalign clear aligners and instead gives them a competitor's brand.

The clear aligner maker filed a suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon, Portland Division, against Dr. William Dischinger and Dischinger Orthodontics in Lake Oswego, OR, claiming they are unlawfully using Invisalign's U.S.-registered trademarks to pass off other systems as if they belong to Align or are affiliated with it, according to the suit. The orthodontist took over the practice after his father Dr. Terry Dischinger, a NBA All-Star and former player with the Portland Trail Blazers and founder of the practice, died.

"This case goes directly to the intent of the trademark law: to protect consumers -- in this case prospective dental and orthodontic patients -- from confusion as to the source of products and services of interest, and from parties who cause such confusion by misusing another party’s trademarks," the lawsuit states.

In the suit, Align claims that orthodontics company Ormco, a competitor, pays Dischinger to promote its Spark clear aligners and is a “key opinion leader” for the brand but that Dischinger liberally uses Invisalign marks to promote his practice, according to the lawsuit. When consumers search online for Invisalign providers in Lake Oswego, OR, they receive results for Dischinger Orthodontics, the complaint states.

An Instagram post cited as an exhibit in the lawsuit. Image courtesy of Align Technology Inc. v. Dischinger Orthodontics PC and Dr. William Dischinger, U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon, Portland Division, 22, (2024).An Instagram post cited as an exhibit in the lawsuit. Image courtesy of Align Technology Inc. v. Dischinger Orthodontics PC and Dr. William Dischinger, U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon, Portland Division, 22, (2024).

Also, Align allegedly claims that Dischinger promotes the brand mishmash "Invisalign Spark Clear Aligners" on his practice's website, according to the suit.

Align claims this is not only false marketing but that Dischinger has not offered Invisalign treatment in four years. Dischinger explained during a podcast interview why he switched from Invisalign to Spark aligners, and, on May 5, 2024, Dischinger gave a presentation at the American Association of Orthodontists 2024 conference in New Orleans and responded to a question, stating he does "zero" Invisalign cases, according to the suit.

Furthermore, Align estimated that Dischinger has given Spark aligners to 1,250 patients, which it calculates amounts to $7 million in lost revenue.

"Align has been and will continue to be damaged and irreparably harmed by Defendants’ actions, which will continue unless Defendants are enjoined by this Court," according to the suit.

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