AMS Calls Patent-Infringement Loss a Win for Their SCRAM System
LITTLETON, CO—Denver-based Alcohol Monitoring Systems has recently lost a long-standing patent infringement case against Tampa, Florida-based Actsoft. But company officials are calling the loss a win for its proprietary SCRAM System.
AMS manufactures SCRAM®, the Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitor. On the market since 2003, the system has monitored more than 102,000 alcohol offenders in 47 states. The lawsuit, filed by AMS in 2007 in Colorado’s Federal District Court, challenged that Actsoft violated AMS’ intellectual property with their product, “HAS,” or House Arrest Solution, which Actsoft says combines GPS location monitoring with an embedded “continuous alcohol monitoring” component.
In what AMS CEO Mike Iiams calls a “surprise” ruling by the court, in April, the presiding judge in the case ruled that Actsoft did not violate AMS patents—because the product does not actually calculate Blood Alcohol Content (BAC), the de facto measurement used worldwide to determine whether an individual has consumed alcohol and the level of intoxication. “While it was a technical loss, the ruling confirmed what Actsoft testified to in court—that the continuous alcohol monitoring component of their bracelet didn’t in any way meet any of the criteria for being a reliable indicator of alcohol consumption,” says Iiams. According to court documents, Actsoft executives and lawyers testified and stated repeatedly throughout the case that their product does not monitor BAC, is not calibrated, cannot distinguish between consumed and environmental exposure to alcohol and requires a secondary breath or blood test to determine actual intoxication.
“The reality is that a monitoring system that provides results that can’t hold up in court is of no use to the criminal justice system,” says Stephen K. Talpins, vice president of Industry Relations for Alcohol Monitoring Systems and a former DUI prosecutor for the Miami-Dade State Attorney in Florida. “A system that can’t distinguish between an incidental environmental exposure to a product with alcohol and actual consumption puts the courts, district attorneys and probation at risk of wrongly punishing offenders for consumption.”
Talpins adds that even the treatment and behavior modification benefits that problem drinkers experience from reliable monitoring is lost with a system that can’t confirm a violation. “That type of alcohol monitoring would do nothing to deter alcohol misuse, which is the root cause of the criminal behavior. It would create a false sense of accountability, and it puts families and communities at risk,” he says.
According to Iiams, despite their view of the ruling as a win, the company is appealing the case. “The integrity of the technology and the trust that the courts place in us requires that we continue to vigorously defend any infringement on our intellectual property,” says Iiams. “Just because a company does a poor job of violating our patents does not mean it isn’t a violation,” he says.
AMS plans to launch the next generation of their product in 2009. The new system will incorporate house arrest technology with their established alcohol monitoring system, opening up what the company says is a substantial market for higher risk offenders who courts want to monitor and limit their location. According to Iiams, the system will be the first one in the U.S. to combine location and curfew monitoring functions with continuous alcohol monitoring.
About Alcohol Monitoring Systems, Inc.
Established in 1997, Alcohol Monitoring Systems, Inc. manufactures SCRAM®, the world’s only Continuous Alcohol Monitoring system, which uses non-invasive transdermal analysis to monitor alcohol consumption.SCRAM fully automates the alcohol testing and reporting process, providing courts and community corrections agencies with the ability to continuously monitor alcohol offenders, increase offender accountability and assess compliance with sentencing requirements and treatment guidelines. Alcohol Monitoring Systems employs 104 people across the U.S. and is a privately-held company headquartered in Littleton, Colorado.