A federal judge in Boston ordered an equipment-service firm engaged in an eight-year legal battle with Picker International to destroy or return Picker service materials.
Imaging Equipment Services of Pittsburgh maintains and repairs advanced imaging equipment, primarily Picker computed tomography scanners. Cleveland-based Picker is among the largest manufacturers of such equipment. It also services its equipment under contract with purchasers.
In 1987, Picker accused IES of misappropriating documents and diagnostic software to compete against it for service contracts. IES, in turn, charged that Picker's actions in the service market broke antitrust laws. IES' claims were dismissed last year.
Earlier this month, U.S. District Judge Mark Wolf ordered IES to destroy or return the materials and enjoined it from violating Picker's right to control the use of its intellectual property. In a 73-page opinion, Wolf said IES "engaged in a relentless campaign to misappropriate and misuse Picker's trade secrets." The defendants also "persistently attempted to cover up their misconduct," he wrote. He named a former FBI official to monitor the firm's compliance with the order.
IES plans to appeal the decision, its lawyer said. He declined further comment. IES President Thomas Quinn also declined to comment and referred questions to his lawyer.
The dispute, however, has generated ill will on each side. Quinn repeatedly asked federal agencies to investigate Picker for possible antitrust violations. In response, both the U.S. Justice Department (July 25, 1994, p. 6) and the Defense Department began probes of the imaging industry (Sept. 5, 1994, p. 12). The Defense Department closed its case in late 1994, unable to confirm allegations that Picker lied to the Pentagon's acquisitions office. The Justice Department said it still is examining possible anti-competitive practices in the medical-imaging device industry.
"None of these agencies has taken any action against Picker based upon Quinn's accusations," Picker said in a press release.
"Our only regret is the time and resources expended in what we have always maintained was a clear case of blatant piracy," it said.