The case of painless needles for diabetes syringes highlights the need of protecting the intellectual property by means Patent very well.
Patients suffering from diabetes have to inject themselves with insulin an average of four times a day, and these injections can be painful and scary, especially for children. Many times a needle will be difficult to inject and insulin may leak out, causing further discomfort and stress.
Case for Patentability:
The case shows us that Terumo Corporation (Terumo) for the noble cause of increasing the quality of life for the diabetes patients went all the way to invent a new needle to deliver the insulin into the patients in a painless way.
Terumo showed resilience and put in investment of time and money to build a product that most suppliers and companies were not ready to acknowledge as acceptable idea. The company was turned down by a series of large metalwork firms, which thought that Terumo’s requirements were too impractical and impossible to be executed.
But Terumo was determined to improve the quality of life for the diabetes patients and in this quest partnered with a well renowned but small firm Okano Industrial Corp. to pursue this dream.
After investing over 5 years in R, the company invented a new way to make the painless needle. The invention would use thin sheet of stainless sheet and rolling it into a tiny tapered cylinder instead of hollowing out a metal cylinder. The resultant needle at 0.2mm was 33% thinner than the conventional needles and discomfort was associated no more than a mosquito bite. Thus almost reaching the goal of making it totally painless.
Further, the company did not stop at just making the invention, they also worked hard to reduce the cost of the needle so that it can become accessible even to the average patients.
Compared to older needles, patients using the needle experienced less pain, anxiety, bleeding, and insulin leakage.
Smaller, less painful needles thus have mitigated the problems and made patients less afraid of their treatment, giving them the ability to focus on their life and not on uncomfortable and stressful insulin injections.
Terumo is marketing the needles under the trademarked Nanopass 33 brand name all over the world.
Role for Patent:
Patents are government-granted rights to exclude others from practicing your invention that may be used to prevent or deter other from competing with you with your own technology.
If the product was not patented, other companies could have made similar syringe, causing huge financial losses which would have caused the company to stop being innovative and investing time and money to make newer products.
In this case protecting its IP for innovations such as the Nanopass 33 needle and monetising it has has given Terumo the freedom to continue to develop new medical products and create new manufacturing processes that reduce the end cost to the patient.
Benefits of IP in business strategy:
Protecting your intellectual property is a crucial foundation for the success of any business. At the most basic level, protecting your intellectual property improves your competitive position. For example, if your product or idea is useful, new and nonobvious, patent protection may provide important barriers to competition.
Exclusive rights – Patents provide the exclusive rights over your invention which you can commercially exploit for twenty years from the date of filing of the patent application.
Strong market position – Through these exclusive rights, you will be able to prevent others from commercially using your patented invention, thereby reducing competition.
Higher returns on investments – Having invested a considerable amount of money and time in developing an innovative product, company gets a chance to sell exclusively thus generating a premium to cover for the cost and make profits.
Opportunity to license or sell the invention – If company choses not to exploit the patent, they can sell it or license the rights to commercialize it to another enterprise to cover the cost and become a source of income.
Positive image for your enterprise – Patent portfolios are a demonstration of the high level of expertise, specialization and technological capacity within your company. Business partners, investors and shareholders may perceive this as a advantage raising your company’s market value.