3Shape, Copenhagen, Denmark, filed a lawsuit against Align Technology Inc, San Jose, Calif, for allegedly acting illegally to block competition in the marketplace for scanners for orthodontic treatment, including clear aligners.

The lawsuit, 3Shape TRIOS A/S v Align Technology, Inc., was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware.

At the beginning of the year, Align Technology terminated its Invisalign interoperability contract with 3Shape TRIOS intraoral scanners.

“Align is illegally holding on to their monopoly of clear aligners after expiry of many of their patents, by effectively forcing dental professionals to buy Align’s intraoral scanner which, with regard to clear aligners and for most practical purposes, is only used for Align’s own clear aligner product Invisalign,” said Wendelynne J. Newton, counsel for 3Shape.

Align is the manufacturer of the Invisalign® brand of clear aligners for orthodontic treatment, as well as the iTero® intraoral scanner. 

3Shape TRIOS intraoral scanner is an open platform that is integrated with multiple clear aligner and orthodontic solution providers. It competes directly with Align’s iTero scanner. According to a press release from 3Shape, this appears to have stimulated a series of anticompetitive actions by Align.

According to the lawsuit, Align is trying to hold on to its monopoly in the clear aligner market by blocking the ability of their strongest scanner competitor from being used in the fitting of Invisalign, and thereby effectively blocking dentists from choosing any other scanner than Align’s iTero for clear aligner treatments. This is also underlined by the launch of Align’s new Invisalign GO Treatment system, which is accessible with iTero only.

“3Shape believes in fair competition and in giving doctors choices rather than limiting them. Align’s behavior represents the opposite of how 3Shape sees the dental industry should evolve for the benefit of doctors and their patients,” said Lars Christian Lund, vice president, corporate business development and marketing at 3Shape. “More and more dentists are expressing outrage at Align’s methods that ultimately make their services more expensive for their patients.’’