Tuesday, May 19, 2009, 5/19/2009 09:36:00 AM

Mayo Clinic to Former Top Executive - Return Our Source Code and Trade Secrets

By Todd
Mayo Clinic and one of its former top executives are squaring off in federal court over medical records software.

The case stems from Mayo's allegations that Dr. Peter Elkin took the core code from the program he helped develop and deleted all copies from Mayo computers. Mayo said Elkin had signed over all control of the software to the clinic, as the clinic's policy dictates.

Because the software is "too complex for Mayo to recreate," the complaint alleges it is completely under Elkin's control.

Elkin was with Mayo Clinic until he left for a position with Mount Sinai Center for Biomedical Information in New York in August 2008, according to court records.

Mayo, along with Cerner Corp., filed a lawsuit in December against Elkin alleging breach of contract. Elkin has filed countersuits.

"Mayo has offered a number of reasonable options to Dr. Elkin above and beyond those required by law, including an offer to permit Dr. Elkin to continue his research on the NLP Software," Mayo's attorney wrote in court documents. "Nevertheless, Dr. Elkin has flatly refused this and all reasonable resolutions, necessarily giving rise to this litigation."

The lawsuit also claims that Elkin attempted to sell the software to Merck & Co., Inc. And, according to the compliant, he gave a presentation about the software in November that revealed proprietary aspects of the program.

"... If Dr. Elkin is not enjoined from disclosing Mayo's confidential and proprietary information and trade secrets relating to the NLP Software, Mayo will lose the value of that information and those trade secrets forever," Mayo says in its complaint.

In 2002, Mayo formed a company with private entities to commercialize the software. Elkin was to receive royalties on the software.

The Mayo company, then called LingoLogix, was purchased for $5.7 million by Cerner Corp. in August 2008, which included the license to the software.

In a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review story Saturday, Elkin's attorneys alleged that Mayo is "violating the terms of federal grants that paid Mayo millions of dollars to develop software for the public good."

Three weeks after Mayo and Cerner filed their lawsuits against Elkin, he filed suits alleging breach of contract on Mayo's side and withholding royalty payments owed to him.

He is seeking damages totaling $560,000 as well "an accounting of Mayo's profits on the Cerner license and an equitable share thereof."

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