August 30, 2023

How One Black-led Tech Firm Is Challenging a Medical Giant Over Alleged Patent Theft

George McKinney, the founder of Better Life Technologies, is in a five-year legal battle against healthcare provider Kaiser Permanente.

Better Life Technologies 

Black-owned tech firm Better Life Technologies Group, Inc. describes itself at the forefront of innovation in human vitality monitoring within the wireless wearable technology revolution.

Their goal is to enhance accessibility to life-saving technologies and create sustainability within the industry.

They work on highly disruptive, non-invasive, real-time diagnostics for COVID-19 and many other pathogens.

What Happened?

McKinney has been in a legal battle with Kaiser Permanente for over five years over patent violations.

Houston Style Magazine reported McKinney initially sued the company for $50 million in 2018 after alleging the company stole trade secrets from Better Life Technologies Group.

In the lawsuit, McKinney claimed Kaiser Permanente developed wearable medical devices with other clients after signing an NDA with his company in 2012.

VIQUAL Medical Technology LLC is a small Black-owned biotech firm based in San Diego, which intended to be the medical device division of Better Life Technologies. 

VIQUAL received intellectual property from Better Life Technologies and created its unique patent-pending and trade-secreted technologies.

The trade secrets involved “a technology designed to help monitor patients suffering from diabetes, heart conditions, cancer and a host of other medical diseases.”

Kaiser Permanente signed a non-compete, non-disclosure agreement with VIQUAL Medical and agreed not to share their received intellectual property and trade secrets.

According to the lawsuit, “On or about late 2016, the plaintiff discovered that the defendant had been using the plaintiff’s proprietary trade secrets to enter into business relationships with the plaintiff’s competitors and had derived income from providing the plaintiff’s trade secrets to the plaintiff’s competitors and other unauthorized recipients.”

The Reason For The Lawsuit

In an interview with Black News, McKinney connected their long struggle against Permanente Kaiser with the buried history of Black inventors and inventions.

“The theft of African American music, ideas, real property and intellectual property has been integrated into American culture for years,” he said.

“How many times have we heard about the Black man or woman who has a great idea, something special, but after disclosing it, has found that the idea now belongs to someone else?”

“Our history is replete with innovations, technologies, and patentable ideas that never saw the light of day because they were stolen.”

Sara Keenan

Tech Reporter at POCIT. Following her master's degree in journalism, Sara cultivated a deep passion for writing and driving positive change for Black and Brown individuals across all areas of life. This passion expanded to include the experiences of Black and Brown people in tech thanks to her internship experience as an editorial assistant at a tech startup.