Patenting A Dental/Orthodontic Device: What Every Practitioner Should Know

Dentistry and orthodontics have received considerable praise for how practitioners in both field have continued to advance the technology behind the technique of providing care for people’s teeth. Everything from the common toothbrush to state of the art jaw alignment devices has been the subject of a patent.

But the world of patents in dentistry and orthodontics can seem daunting to a practitioner with a great idea but wants to protect their intellectual property. There are 4 key points to keep in mind during this process.

The 4 Key Points Dental/Orthodontic Device Intellectual Property Protection:

Existing Products or Patents

What an inventor of a dental or orthodontics device must first seek out is if the device already exists or, at the very least, is there an existing patent for said device?

It is advised but not required that the inventor complete a patent search prior to applying for a patent. It’s expensive to apply for a patent, and if a search and review dictates that a person probably will not get a patent, the person probably shouldn’t waste time and money applying.

“Professional Protection”

Hiring an official patent agent is the best way for a dentist or orthodontist to protect their invention. The process of obtaining a patent can be tedious and if anything is done wrong the patent could be rejected. It’s important to keep in mind that an invention not properly protected by an official patent is a target for others looking to capitalize on the foundation of the invention and, subsequently, patent their own “version” of the device. In doing this , an individual or company can effectively “steal” the unprotected intellectual property of another individual or company.

Trademarks

This is the brand name symbol that serves as a visual representation of a product or company. Serving as an identifier of the product or service, A trademark becomes critical for product recognition and brand growth. A trademark includes any combination of a word, name, symbol, device, or only one of these.

Licensing

To materialize this protection licensing is needed. Patents, trademarks, copyrights, designs, and other intellectual properties only need to be officially licensed to hold up in a court of law. Licensing serves as a vessel for a company to legally profit from a person’s property, i.e., invention in the form of a contract. Both a medical device inventor and a license pursuing company can profit greatly through this procedure.

Specific tax breaks in America have further motivated dentists and orthodontists to pursue intellectual properties. Currently, there is a two-year suspension of the Medical Device Tax.

Mark Leahey, President and CEO of MDMA, has recently spoken more about this:

“Both the Senate and the House of Representatives have recently made it clear that there is broad, bipartisan agreement that the medical device tax needs to be repealed. While much of the damage caused when the device tax was in place cannot be undone, today med tech innovators are investing the additional resources in communities throughout the United States. Congress needs to put a permanent end to what they agree is a misguided and destructive policy.”

2017 is shaping up to be a solid year for dental and orthodontic inventions to start emerging in one of the most technologically appreciative industries in the world.

About the author:

CHENG-NING JONG, P.E. Cheng-Ning Jong
Patent Agent

Mr. Jong is a Registered U.S. Patent Agent working at Tracyjonglawfirm.com and also a licensed Professional Engineer in the state of New York. Mr. Jong is also the founder/owner of PatentSlice.com, an automated service that helps casual patent readers and patent practitioners alike, in more quickly grasping and analyzing the concepts of existing inventions and also your own patent drafts. He has more than 20 years experience working with medical device patents.