Materialise launches patent suit against Nobel Biocare

A Medical Device Daily

Materialise Dental (Leuven, Belgium) a manufacturer of 3-D implant planning systems for treatment planning of dental implants, has launched a U.S. patent infringement lawsuit in the Central District of California against Nobel Biocare (Göteborg, Sweden) and its U.S. subsidiary Nobel Biocare USA (Yorba Linda, California).

Specifically, Materialise contends that Nobel Biocare’s manufacture of NobelGuide drilling template violates a Materialise U.S. patent that was issued in 1998 relating to Materialise’s SurgiGuide techniques.

The lawsuit in the U.S. is effectively an extension of a similar action in Europe where this past August the District Court of Dusseldorf ordered Nobel Biocare and Nobel Biocare Deutschland (Köln, Germany) to stop offering the NobelGuide drilling templates in Germany, finding that they infringed Materialise’s analogous European Patent No. 0 756 735. This decision, which is preliminarily enforceable, is subject to an appeal of Nobel Biocare pending at the Düsseldorf Court of Appeals.

The company’s U.S. lawsuit is also a response to a recent Nobel Biocare civil action (also filed in the Central District Court of California) that seeks declaratory judgments that Materialise’s U.S. patent is both not infringed by Nobel Biocare’s products and is invalid.

Bart Swaelens, CEO of Materialise Dental, said:

With this lawsuit, we are protecting our technology. Our SimPlant software was launched in 1991, and was followed by our SurgiGuide drill guides in 1999. The introduction of NobelGuide by Nobel Biocare, on the other hand, did not occur until 2005,” said Materialise Dental CEO, Bart Swaelens.

Dental drill guides transfer surgical implant planning to the actual surgery. The litigations in the U.S. and in Germany concern methods for making medical models, including guides for dental surgery, which involve the use of grey value images and rapid prototyping.

Materialise Dental’s U.S. operations are headquartered in Glen Burnie, Maryland.