An interesting development in the dental implant market is taking place. Nobel Biocare yesterday launched a suit against Neodent alleging patent infringement. Straumann owns a stake in Brazil’s Neodent (according to this Reuters article). They bought 49% for CHF 240 million in 2012 with an option to buy 100% within 6 years (2018) (according to swiss financial newspaper Finanz & Wirtschaft). (The link to the orginal press release from Straumann regarding purchase of Neodent stake in May 2012 is here.)
Nobel Biocare allegation: Neodent line of “Drive CM” dental implants imported from Brazil, have striking similarities to the design of the NobelActive® implants which Nobel Biocare commercially launched in 2008.
Neodent response: Prior to launching Drive CM, Neodent obtained in-depth evaluations to ensure that its designs respected all valid intellectual property rights. The current complaint appears to be based on patents that Nobel Biocare obtained after Drive CM was introduced in the USA.
Nobel Biocare allegation: Nobel Biocare asserts that Neodent USA has relied on Nobel Biocare’s history of successful clinical data in marketing the Neodent product.
Neodent response: Like most implant systems, its products are supported by the company’s own clinical experience as well as clinical and scientific findings published by third parties in the public domain – for example concerning high grade titanium, implant designs, surface technology, etc. Most companies rely on third-party documentation in applications for regulatory approvals based on substantial equivalence.
Based on the above, there doesn’t seem to be clear cut case in favor of Nobel Biocare. Nobel Biocare may have been late with the obtention of their patents.
Bottom line: More competition, higher costs, lower sales, lower margins. Also: Neodent will role out its products in Europe aswell in 2014 (see Reuters Article).
Check out the respective press releases of both companies: