Making easier product decisions with the help of PatSnap’s Professional Services team
Grace Medical is a medical devices company specializing in the manufacture of ventilation tubes, middle ear implants and specialty instrumentation for Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) professionals. Based in Memphis, Tennessee, the business started out of a garage and has since grown into a global market leader in the development of ENT products.
When it comes to their product development approach, Grace Medical relies mainly on their relationships with ENT surgeons, in addition to information gleaned from competitors’ patent applications, to inform their product decisions. When surgeons suggest new ideas, the company starts their preliminary patent research using publicly available resources, to ensure there’s nothing in the way of them commercializing the idea.
A laser sharp understanding of IP
According to Tony Prescott, Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer of Grace Medical, preliminary patent research is critical to their product development process. A company with limited, highly-focused resources, they require a laser sharp understanding of the IP landscape and their freedom to operate before investing in the development of a new product. “We can’t afford to spend money and resources developing products that cannot be sold because a proper IP search was not performed at the beginning of a project,” said Prescott. “That being said, such searches can take a significant amount of time to structure and conduct properly.”
Their need for a clear understanding of the IP landscape coupled with the inherent complexities of IP research led them to outsource the task to PatSnap’s Professional Services team. According to Prescott, the decision to partner with PatSnap reaped immediate time savings for the Grace Medical team. “PatSnap offered a team perspective during the formative stage of the search strategy that saved significant time versus having to wade in the weeds,” said Prescott.
Leveraging patent search to close in on a licensing opportunity
The support of PatSnap’s team was particularly useful when Grace Medical was working to license a new technology from a leading medical institution. The proposal from the institution included a list of new patent applications, which required comprehensive research on the IP that was allowable, what was already in use by competitors and what was in the public domain. “We already had discovered a few patents that were somewhat related and forwarded those along with our own patent application to PatSnap,” said Prescott. “We asked them to perform a search for patent applications, current patents, and expired patents as it related to the new technology.”
PatSnap’s Professional Services team assisted Grace Medical with conducting a comprehensive search of the technology on a worldwide basis, providing them with a complete, detailed report of all related IP. According to Prescott, PatSnap’s research helped Grace Medical gain a clearer picture of the technology up for licensing. “PatSnap’s procedure for structuring the search according to key features of the proposed new technology helped us to drill down precisely to the relevant information,” he said. With the help of PatSnap’s Professional Services team, Grace Medical made an informed decision that was in the best interests of the company and gained greater confidence in their innovation strategy moving forward.