How to Best Protect Medical Device Technology
When you have invented a new medical device, it is important to seek legal protections on your intellectual property. The legal protections that are available to you will depend on what your invention is, so it is important to discuss your particular situation with an experienced intellectual property attorney, like the professionals at The Rapacke Law Group.
Medical device inventions are generally eligible for utility patents and design patents. Even in many cases where the invention lies in an innovative software that functions as a medical device, inventors may seek patent protection for the software process, the design of the graphic user interface, and the design of any user input means, such as buttons or displays used for interacting with the software.
What Type of Claim Does Your Invention Need?
With respect to medical devices, almost every type and subtype of claim are used when drafting patent applications. There are many different types of claims in medical device patent applications, such as apparatus claims, method claims, system claims and more.
- Apparatus claims. Apparatus claims, also known as device claims, are the simplest type of claim to understand because they focus on the structure of the invention. Essentially, you give your device or implement a name, list the parts and explain how the parts are interconnected.
- Method of use claims. A method claim is a claim directed to using a medical device. Instead of describing a device or an implement itself, the method claim is describing a step-by-step process for using the device.
- System claims. System claims, which are also called combination claims, recite the medical device invention, in conjunction with the medical system that the medical device invention is typically used in.
- Kit claims. Kit claims are designed to patent some combination of parts that the buyer or user assembles prior to use. Many surgical or medical procedure inventions often include at least one kit claim.
Any given medical device patent application may contain many claims of different types. A comprehensive patent application in the medical device space will include claims directed to the various types discussed above as appropriate. Speak with the experienced patent practitioners at The Rapacke Law Group about what types of claims make sense for your medical device invention.
Design Patent Protection for Medical Devices
With respect to new medical devices, many inventors underestimate the value and patentability of design features that go beyond aesthetics of their medical device innovations. Because the medical industry deals with the human anatomy and the attendant dangers of surgery and invasive procedures, design is crucial and may have patentable value. Ornamental designs can be immensely useful in the medical arts, especially when the design provides a competitive advantage or plays a role in helping practitioners differentiate one medical device from another.
Various design aspects of medical device software may be eligible for design patent protection as well. For instance, design patent protection may be available for the overall appearance of medical device software, such as the graphical user interfaces, design features mobile healthcare applications and the appearance of icons. Unique arrangements of buttons and display screens on a medical device could also be protected by design patents.
Mobile Devices in Medtech
One of the hottest areas in Medtech right now is mobile health, which involves medical wearables that interface with an internet-based platform (e.g., mobile technologies), such as an online portal or a mobile app. The ubiquity of smartphone technology and the accessibility of the internet have made mobile health technologies a fast-growing industrial frontier. Mobile medical apps are quickly changing how health information is provided to patients, consumers and healthcare professionals.
Mobile medical apps usually consist of two main components: a wearable medical device and a mobile app or digital health platform. Not only does the invention include a wearable medical device, but there is also the software or mobile app technology aspect to your invention as well. Whether your invention is a fitness tracker, a portable medical device, or an on-body health monitoring device, you need a patent lawyer who understands your technology – both the medical device side of your invention, as well as the software or mobile app side of your invention.
At The Rapacke Law Group, medical device technology and software and mobile applications are two of our firms dedicated practice areas. Our patent attorneys are well suited for helping clients obtain patent protections for inventions in the mobile health industry. Whether you are a physician-inventor, or a small medical device company or startup, we can help you figure out what IP protection options are available to you