Stake claims carefully in the orthopedic device patent gold rush.
David J. Dykeman, Greenberg TraurigPatents are the currency of the orthopedic industry. In order to thrive, orthopedic device companies must distinguish themselves from their competitors through their intellectual property portfolios.
Strong patent portfolios are the key to success because they embody a well-reasoned business strategy, where each patent is a single strategic building block in a larger portfolio that reflects present and future business objectives. Patent portfolios are often the driving force for major events in the life cycle of an orthopedic company including venture capital investment, mergers and acquisitions, public offerings, strategic collaborations, joint ventures and litigation.
Orthopedics industry booming
The orthopedic device industry has flourished in recent years, with worldwide orthopedic devices market size growing to over $42 billion in 2018 for treatment of trauma, bone diseases, sports injuries, degenerative diseases, infections, tumors and congenital disorders, according to Global Market Insights. One driver of the orthopedic industry boom is an increase in musculoskeletal injuries and conditions in America’s aging population. Given the increase in age-related musculoskeletal problems, the orthopedics industry faces pressure to develop technological advancements and improved medical devices for diagnosis and treatment of bones and joints including hip, knee, ankle, shoulder and spine conditions.
Orthopedic devices are typically categorized into diagnostics, implants, prosthetics and surgical devices. The increasing demand for orthopedic devices for minimally invasive and robotic surgery has led to new surgical devices and innovative treatments.
Strong patent portfolios drive growth
Developing and maintaining a strategic patent portfolio is critical to an orthopedic device company’s growth and survival. A comprehensive orthopedic patent strategy includes: (1) filing strong patent applications to maximize patent coverage of a company’s current core technology and future improvements; (2) monitoring the patent landscape and explore ways to patent white space; and (3) considering cross-licensing opportunities with competitors. By using these patent strategies, orthopedic companies can ensure success in today’s competitive and rapidly changing intellectual property environment.
For orthopedic companies, the key is to develop a strategic patent portfolio that has comprehensive patent coverage around the company’s innovations. The core technology must have adequate patent protection to provide flexibility and room to operate in the dynamic orthopedic market. To obtain broad patent protection, companies should file an initial patent application covering the core technology, followed by additional patent applications covering key improvements. Orthopedic companies should consider both current and future business objectives and analyze ways that competitors may attempt to design around its patents.
Here’s a real-world example of how strong patents help
IlluminOss Medical is an FDA-approved and venture-backed medical device company pioneering new frontiers in minimally invasive stabilization and treatment of fractured bones. From the company’s formation, IlluminOss Medical has worked with international law firm Greenberg Traurig to study the intellectual property landscape and develop a strong patent portfolio directed to the company’s orthopedic systems. The patent portfolio has helped the company protect its innovative products and raise multiple rounds of venture capital funding.
Conducting thorough patent searches early provided the inventor and IlluminOss Medical with information on existing products and ideas of patent white space the company could try to claim. By aggressively staking claims in the patent landscape, IlluminOss Medical has been granted over 45 U.S. patents and created a strong worldwide patent portfolio of over 100 patents in 17 countries that provides a picket fence of patent protection around its innovative core technology, improvements, potential alternative designs and future innovations.
“Building a strong patent portfolio has been of critical importance to protect IlluminOss’ innovative products and as a means to attract investment,” said IlluminOss Medical’s founder Robert A. Rabiner. He added that it helps to have patent attorneys who not only understand complex technologies but can also develop proactive patent strategies to protect the core technology — and find additional areas to patent.
IlluminOss Medical patents cover all aspects of its products including the entire system, catheters, balloons, light sources, treatment kits, methods of treatment, improvements, and alternative designs to form a picket fence of patent protection around the innovative fracture fixation technology. The patent portfolio supports the company’s mission to improve patient outcomes through the treatment of broken bones.
Orthopedic companies must build and maintain high-value patent portfolios to be successful in today’s competitive and rapidly changing patent environment. By aggressively protecting core technology and optimizing the patenting of white space, orthopedic device companies can build a strong patent portfolio.
A strategic patent portfolio will not only secure a company’s competitive advantage in the market by maximizing patent protection, securing funding, enhancing revenue, and increasing marketing value, but it will also enable a company to thrive in the growing orthopedic market.
David J. Dykeman is a registered patent attorney with over 20 years of experience in patent and intellectual property law, and co-chair of Greenberg Traurig’s global Life Sciences & Medical Technology Group. David’s practice focuses on securing worldwide intellectual property protection and related business strategy for medtech clients, with particular experience in medical devices, life sciences, wearables, robotics and healthcare information technology. David can be reached at email@example.com
The opinions expressed in this blog post are the author’s only and do not necessarily reflect those of Medical Design and Outsourcing or its employees.