Philips Files Lawsuit Alleging Hacking of Medical Devices
Philips North America, the electronics giant that makes ultrasound equipment, is accusing Summit, a Seattle-based medical device repair service company, of stealing secrets. Philips recently filed a lawsuit against the startup company.
Philips claims Summit Imaging designed and built software capable of hacking into ultrasound machines, such as the Philips IE33, and other medical devices. The software’s purpose is to get around strong access controls that regulate how people can use the machines. According to the lawsuit, Summit markets the software as a legal way to get around the restraints companies such as Philips put in place.
According to the lawsuit filed in Seattle, “Summit is making a profit at the expense of Philips by offering consumers the ability to make unlicensed use of Philips software, by hacking Philips software to enable unlicensed features that consumers would otherwise have to purchase separately from Philips, and/or configurations that consumers could never obtain from Philips. Summit then sells these services in direct competition with Philips, at a discount, and is, therefore, making these unauthorized changes for commercial gain.”
In their marketing and training materials, Summit states they built their software, Adepto, to give customers the tools needed to service their devices. It was to act as an alternative to OEM diagnostics. Summit allegedly works around the safeguards by copying software and installing it on hacked devices, making it possible to work with other hardware. They bill it as a completely legal and ethical solution to getting around restrictions on machine capabilities. Philips feels that it isn’t.
The original restrictions require customers to buy additional software to allow different devices to work together. Philips uses proprietary passwords to lock up the devices and restrict access to certain features, as those features are available for a price. Independent service providers and sellers of medical equipment want access so they can update configurations after board replacement and run diagnostics during troubleshooting. These are common tasks, but the updates are password protected, which means users must pay an additional fee to Philips. Summit created a way around it, and that’s what lead to the lawsuit. The industry has watched some companies develop their own software to get around the passwords and restrictions, but Philips started filing lawsuits in September of 2019.
Conquest Imaging has always believed in the “right to repair” our customers’ machines and all medical imaging equipment. We believe in the honest and ethical repairing of machines within the guidelines set forth by the original equipment manufacturers. We have respected the OEMs claimed property rights and protections. As such, we have set our own policies that are consistent with industry standards regarding intellectual property and property rights.