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Align Technology Anticompetitive Actions for Aligners, Scanners Class Action

Dental aligners are a plastic, less-visible form of braces. They are also popular because they can be removed for short periods, for eating and toothbrushing. This class action brings suit against Align Technology, Inc. for anti-competitive actions and monopoly of the aligner and scanning markets.

The class for this action is all persons or entities in the US who bought, paid for, or provided reimbursement for some or all of the price of Invisalign aligners for personal use, between March 15, 2015 until the anticompetitive behavior alleged in this complaint ends.

Align has fiercely protected its dominance of the aligner market, filing lawsuits for patent infringement against potential competitors. By 2017, however, its “hundreds of patents” were beginning to expire. The complaint alleges that at this point, it began to implement “an anticompetitive scheme to maintain its monopoly position.” The scheme involved two aspects of the market: aligners and scanners.

Scanners are the devices that dental offices use to take images of a patient’s jaws, teeth, and bite and to transmit them to a company so that it can generate customized aligners.

Align’s scanner is called iTero, while its primary competitor, 3Shape, has a scanner called Trios. Trios allows dentists to order aligners from various companies. However, the complaint claims, “iTero is a closed system because it imposes substantial costs on dentists who attempt to use the iTero for ordering Aligners that are not manufactured by Align.” Align therefore wanted to use dominance in each market to reinforce dominance in the other, the complaint says.

The complaint alleges that Align first ended its Interoperability Agreement, an “economically irrational, unilateral termination of Align’s longstanding and profitable agreement with 3Shape that allowed the Trios Scanner to be used to order Invisalign…” exchanging short-term profits for the anticompetitive effects Align wanted.

Second, the complaint says, it instituted “exclusive dealing contracts with two of the largest dental service organizations (‘DSO’) that effectively prevented DSO members from dealing with Align’s competitors in the Scanner and Aligner markets…”

Third, it instituted “the Fusion program, which bundled iTero an Invisalign Aligner sales together, effectively preventing dentists from ordering either Aligners or Scanners from rivals.”

According to the complaint, a “rival Aligner manufacturer looking to compete against Invisalign would have to offer below-cost prices to offset the penalties and overcome the restrictions Align has placed on its customers through this Scheme. Likewise, Align has foreclosed Trios, its only true rival in the Scanner market” because it has roughly ninety percent of the market for aligners.

The straightening of teeth with aligners is expensive. It can cost up to $8,000, and the complaint alleges that dental insurance covers only 25% to 50% of the cost. Individual consumers therefore pay for much or all of the cost of Invisalign tooth straightening. Align itself “works to arrange third party financing programs for end-user consumers…” These programs mean that payment comes directly to Align, rather than being passed through dentists.

Article Type: Lawsuit
Topic: Antitrust

Most Recent Case Event

Align Technology Anticompetitive Actions for Aligners, Scanners Complaint

May 3, 2021

Dental aligners are a plastic, less-visible form of braces. They are also popular because they can be removed for short periods, for eating and toothbrushing. This class action brings suit against Align Technology, Inc. for anti-competitive actions and monopoly of the aligner and scanning markets.

Align Technology Anticompetitive Actions for Aligners, Scanners Complaint

Case Event History

Align Technology Anticompetitive Actions for Aligners, Scanners Complaint

May 3, 2021

Dental aligners are a plastic, less-visible form of braces. They are also popular because they can be removed for short periods, for eating and toothbrushing. This class action brings suit against Align Technology, Inc. for anti-competitive actions and monopoly of the aligner and scanning markets.

Align Technology Anticompetitive Actions for Aligners, Scanners Complaint
Tags: Anticompetitive Actions, Antitrust