Innovation in MedTech is rapidly increasing. With the highest rate of European applications filed and expanding global revenue, the trend is unlikely to slow any time soon. Over the past few years, the focus of innovation has shifted from more mature, conventional fields, particularly towards computer implemented inventions. However, the data on oppositions filed at the European Patent Office (EPO) suggests that although companies are focusing on their own innovation, there is perhaps a lack of awareness regarding competitors’ IP and the possibility of strengthening their position by challenging competitors’ patents using the fairly low-cost, centralised opposition procedure at the EPO.
The trend in the MedTech sector is supported by the challenges faced by healthcare systems, which include the ageing population and spiralling costs. The data suggests that companies in the healthcare market are responding to the challenge and recognise that securing patent protection is vital in order to position their innovations at the forefront of emerging MedTech technologies.
Total European patent applications for MedTech compared to growth in global market
MedTech is still the leading field of technology when it comes to patent applications at the EPO. After a slight dip in 2016, the number of MedTech applications rose again to record numbers in 2017. This trend in the number of patent applications mirrors that of the global MedTech market of the previous year. It appears that growing revenues are stimulating the quickening pace of innovation in the MedTech field.
Percentage change in number of applicationssince 2010 in key MedTech subsectors
The rapid growth in the number of MedTech patent applications has not been uniform across the field. Areas such as cardio and imaging have seen much greater rates of innovation than more mature sectors such as orthopedics.
The number of patents granted for MedTech and the percentage of those opposed
There is also a clear increase in the numbers of granted patents issued in the MedTech field. Although this dropped off slightly in 2017, the increasing number of applications in 2017 suggests that this will rise again in the coming years as those applications pass through to grant. Interestingly, although the number of oppositions filed against MedTech patents has risen, as a percentage of granted patents this has consistently decreased and has recently dropped under the average opposition rate across all fields of 4%.
When looking to strengthen their market position, MedTech businesses would be wise to consider opposing their competitors’ patents. GJE has substantial oppositions experience and consistently outperforms the competition in both attack and defence. See here for more information on GJE’s oppositions practice, and here to find out more about how we can help you protect your MedTech innovation.