The orthopedic & spine patent space — Key trends & opportunities

Written by Laura Dyrda | December 22, 2018 | Print  |

Knobbe Martens partners Sabing Lee, Rabinder Narula and Theodore Papagiannis discuss the biggest challenges for achieving patents for orthopedic innovations and where technology is headed in the future.

Question: What are the top challenges those looking to patent orthopedic innovations might face heading into 2019?

Answer: Orthopedic and spine companies are in a relatively crowded and mature patent space. So, some orthopedic and spine companies may have a harder time identifying and developing innovative products that are patentable over earlier patents and existing technologies. As a result, the scope of the patent coverage for new products is often limited. That being said, there are still opportunities for companies to obtain meaningful patent coverage for innovative technologies if they employ the right strategies. In addition, because the patent space is relatively crowded, there is a higher risk that new products might infringe third party patents. Accordingly, patent litigation in the spine/orthopedic space remains common.

As a result of the passing of the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (AIA) earlier this decade, the ability to challenge issued patents was greatly expanded. For example, the validity of patents is often challenged using the inter partes review (IPR) procedure, especially by parties that are sued or even threatened with patent infringement. Therefore, patent holders may be more reluctant to assert their rights because of these patent challenge procedures. From a strategy perspective, this has significantly changed the mindset of many patentees who are contemplating asserting their patent rights.

Q: What are some technological inventions/innovations you expect to see in this field in the future?

A: Technological invention/innovation areas may include:

• The development of patient-specific implants (customized implants)
• The use of 3D printing to manufacture spinal implants
• The development of new expandable (e.g., vertically, laterally expandable) spinal implants
• The continued expansion of incorporating materials and configurations that are relatively new in spinal implant designs, including titanium, porous surfaces and the like
• Robotic surgery and other advancements in minimally-invasive spine surgery procedures
• The use of augmented reality and virtual reality for spine surgeries and other spine procedures

More articles on orthopedic devices:
Smith & Nephew to acquire Centrix Orthopaedics in $105M deal: 5 things to know
Stryker, Zimmer Biomet, Smith & Nephew & more: 12 device company notes
Mizuho OSI celebrates 40 years

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