WILMINGTON, Del. - Walgreen Co., armed with a new patent, sued Rite Aid Corp., CVS Caremark Corp. and Shopko Stores Inc., claiming they’re misappropriating its technology for refilling prescriptions with mobile-phone scanners.
Walgreen, the largest U.S. drugstore chain, with $72 billion in sales last fiscal year, got a patent last month for a system to “express refill” prescriptions and is entitled to exclusive use of the invention, the Deerfield, Ill.-based company said in complaints filed Jan. 31 in federal court in Wilmington, Del.
The chain said it “owns, offers and operates” mobile applications that run on iPhones, Android-equipped phones and BlackBerrys. Rite Aid, CVS and Shopko are using the methods without a license, according to Walgreen’s filing, which seeks unspecified damages and orders to stop the infringement.
Retailers are adding mobile applications as more consumers shop through smartphones and tablets. Walgreen lets customers download apps through services run by Apple Inc., Google Inc. or Windows Corp. Shoppers scan prescription-bottle labels, choose a location, submit an order and pick up the medicine later, according to the company’s website.
The 8,500-store chain, which operates in every U.S. state, said it also offers “pill reminders” and health advice on the iPhone and Android systems.
“We are investigating this matter and cannot comment further on pending litigation,” Michael DeAngelis, a spokesman for Woonsocket-based CVS, said in an emailed statement.
Ashley Flower, a spokeswoman for Camp Hill, Penn.- based Rite Aid declined to comment on the lawsuits. Tara Powers of Lambert, Edwards & Associates, a spokeswoman for Green Bay, Wis.-based Shopko, didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.
Walgreen fell 3 percent to $55.64 on New York Stock Exchange trading at 1:45 p.m. The shares climbed 42 percent in the 12 months before today.