Philips sues Summit Imaging, alleges software hacked

November 04, 2019
by Thomas Dworetzky, Contributing Reporter
Philips has sued device repair and service company Summit Imaging, accusing the Seattle-based firm of hacking its imaging devices and taking trade secrets, according to GeekWire.

The industrial giant charged the firm in court documents with developing software that breaks into ultrasound machines to get around built-in access protections that control how hardware and software can connect to each other.

That software is sold to healthcare providers as an approach to get around restrictions put on devices.

“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,” the lawsuit stated, noting, “Summit then sells these services in direct competition with Philips, at a discount, and is therefore making these unauthorized changes for commercial gain.”

Philips sells extra software that enables devices to work together, and Summit allegedly provides workarounds that permit the copying of software illegally.

The lawsuit named Summit CEO Lawrence Nguyen as “personally directing and building the alleged hacking tools and pushing the marketing strategies,” noted the tech news site.

“We are in receipt of the complaint and are reviewing it,” the company stated via email to GeekWire.

The Philips suit suggests that Summit got its hands on proprietary tools containing trade secrets and charges that the firm has misappropriated those trade secrets, and has engaged in false advertising and modifying copyrighted materials.

Summit, which repairs Philips equipment, uses its own Adepto software to get around protections and modify software, Philips charged.

“To make use of the Adepto hacking tool, Summit and Summit customers physically remove the hard drive from the Ultrasound System; the removed hard drive is then attached to a separate computer where the Adepto hacking tool runs; the Adepto hacking tool bypasses Philips software access controls and accesses the removed hard drive,” the suit claimed.

In October, Philips gave guidance that it will not hit its profit margin goals for the year, calling out tariffs and less-than-stellar results of its Connected Care division efforts.

In speaking with reporters this week, its CEO, Frans van Houten told reporters, “Tariffs have gone up, definitions have become clearer,” also noting that, “the impact has gone up, while mitigating actions have been delayed.”

The new figures put the company's EBITA margin up just 10 to 20 basis points for 2019, versus an earlier estimate of 100 basis points.

Also in October, medical video game designer Level Ex announced a collaboration with Philips geared to training interventional cardiologists in the use of intravascular ultrasound (IVUS), a catheter-based imaging technology that enables clinicians to visualize blood vessels from the inside out.

“This introduces a whole new realm of trying to analyze tests. IVUS has really been introduced to improve patient outcomes and decision-making for physicians, but not all physicians use it. It’s a newer technology that they need to understand in terms of how to interpret images, how to use the images, what they mean, and how they inform better decisions when they are in front of the patients,” Dr. Eric Gantwerker, medical director of Level Ex, told HCB News at the time. “Its integration here allows them to interact with that type of technology in the sense of learning what the images mean and what decisions have to be based on those images.”