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The 3D Bioprinting Patent Landscape Takes Shape as IP Leaders Emerge

by • July 6, 2016 • No Comments

3D bioprinting, a type of 3D printing, is a quickly expanding field with additional players entering the arena each day. Complementing this growth, 3D bioprinting patent filings are trending upward. 3D bioprinting is a hot area for intellectual property (IP), given the innovation-rich and young technologies involved.

Whilst 3D bioprinting uses a few of the additive making principles of 3D printing, it in addition has most advancements of its own. For example, 3D bioprinting uses highly specialized biocompatible materials, a fewtimes called bio-inks,” that can include new polymers and actually living cells. The machines utilized for 3D bioprinting are in addition highly specialized to handle the bio-inks safely, and to make implants and tissue, and actuallytually, organs.

As one can imagine, a immense amount of research is needed to create successful machines, methods, materials, processes, and products in this field. With so most aspects of 3D bioprinting being new and unprecedented, most companies and inventors are seeking patent protection to safeguard their efforts, while enriching the 3D bioprinting industry with their inventions. This article looks at how the 3D bioprinting field has grown, and at the emerging IP leaders.

Overview of the 3D Bioprinting Patent Landscape

To evaluate the 3D bioprinting patent landscape, we searched for of the world patents and pending patent applications specifically directed in the direction of 3D bioprinting. In April 2015, the search returned of 700 patents and pending applications, a dimensionsable number for an industry that is relatively new. In June 2016, the same search returned approximately 950 patents and pending applications, a 36% increase in observable patent activity of 2015. We say “observable” for the reason there may be most additional unpublished patent applications that did not look in the search results (additional on this later).

3Dbioprinting 750

The Many Players, and the Few Leaders

The search synonymous over 100 companies that own 3D bioprinting patents or pending applications. The list was diverse, revealing that innovations in the field are originating of most various parts of the world and of companies both big and tiny. Amidst the dimensionsable pool of companies, there are trends and emerging leaders in 3D bioprinting patent protection. The chart at a lower place shows the companies with the dimensionsablest portfolios of patents and published applications at this time (these companies may own patents or applications that were not picked up by the search, such as unpublished applications):

2015-2016 Top 3D Bioprinting Patent Assignees April 2015 October 2015 June 2016
Organovo Inc 32 32 66
Koninklijke Philips 30 37 33
Wake Forest University 29 29 40
Hewlett-Packard Company 29 39 29
The University Of Texas System 18 20 22
Medprin Regenerative Medical Technologies Co Ltd 14 14 14
Corning Incorporated 14 16 17

As a best known leader and pioneer in 3D bioprinting, it was no surprise that Organovo created this list. Our time-lapsed search results showed that Organovo doubled its US and foreign IP portfolio in the past year alone. Wake Forest University and Koninklijke Philips, in addition at the top of this list, hold dimensionsable patent portfolios in 3D bioprinting, and the top 3 companies outnumber the rest by worthwhile margins. Other companies and research universities are in addition steadily expanding their patent portfolios, such as Hewlett-Packard, the University of Texas, Medprin Regenerative Medical Technologies, and Corning.

3D bioprinting inventions are originating of all corners of the world. The majority of the inventors of the 950 patents and applications resides in the United States, China, Japan, and South Korea. Companies own a majority of the patents and pending applications, but over 100 of the patents and applications are yet owned by the original inventors. If/when ownership is transferred to a company, the IP portfolio leaderboard may alter.

Issued Patents and Published Applications May Not Tell the Whole Story…

Our search included issued patents and “observable” patent applications, that is, applications that have been published, but there may be most unpublished applications that can actuallytually reveal a new 3D bioprinting IP powerhouse. Normally, patent applications are published 18 months after they are filed, and are secret until and so. In the United States and a few other countries, an applicant can request nonpublication of a patent application, in that case the public does not learn of the application until it becomes a patent.

Nonpublication is a tactic utilized to store innovations secret while the application is pending, and this tactic can be especially useful when the patent application is pending for years. Issued patents are always published, so there are no secret patents in the 3D bioprinting industry. But just as 3D printing has stunned making industries, these already unknown unpublished applications may yield new patent portfolios that shift power to industry newcomers. Time can tell, as the patent landscape evolves and both published and unpublished bioprinting patent applications issue as patents.

cellink and roosterbio 3D printing inks for bioprinting

The Patent Landscape is Ever-Changing

Whilst this article identifies current IP leaders by portfolio dimensions, the leaderboard can most likely see a few shuffling and new names in the coming years, as 3D bioprinted products inch nearer to FDA approval and widespread use in clinics and hospitals. For example, companies are now partnering to create and patent specific products, such as kidney cells, that may start FDA testing in the coming years. For products that can interact or reside inside the human body, FDA testing and approval is the gateway for most companies to profit. A path in the direction of FDA approval can attract additional companies and partnerships between companies, both of that usually bring additional IP to the field. Companies with deeper pockets can purchase patents and gain companies, thereby consolidating or shifting the bioprinting IP power structure. But portfolio dimensions is not all that matters. A company with just a few patents may hold the secret sauce to a highly successful and FDA-approved product, so it is significant not to count anyone out in this pioneering age for 3D bioprinting.

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