A federal judge in Colorado ruled earlier this month that Ceramtec cannot trademark its ceramic hip implants’ pink color, after the company wrote a cease and desist letter to Coorstek Medical in 2014 over its competing CeraSurf device.
Forth Worth, Texas-based Coorstek’s CeraSurf device is made with ceramic material that uses chromium oxide, which provides hardness and toughness to the device and gives it a pink color. In February last year, the FDA cleared CeraSurf to be used in hip implants and declared the material to be substantially equivalent to predicate systems including Ceramtec’s Biolox Delta material.
“Because the court has found that the use of chromium oxide in Biolox Delta is functional, and alternatively because the court has found that CeramTec is estopped from denying its functionality, and because the color pink is the natural byproduct of the use of chromium oxide, the court declares that CeramTec cannot and therefore does not own any trademark or trade dress rights in the color pink,” Judge Brooke Jackson wrote.
Jackson also found that some of Ceramtec’s patents may eventually be canceled based upon the court’s findings.
“The court further declares that plaintiffs are not infringing upon any purported rights in the color pink, and that plaintiffs are not competing unfairly by marketing ceramic hip implant components that have the same or similar pink color as CeramTec hip implant components.”
Coorstek’s CeraSurf-p ceramic femoral heads and acetabular liners have been distributed for use as bearing surfaces for hip implant systems in South America since 2011 and Europe since 2012.
“The district court’s ruling will ensure that a key component for the United States’ orthopedic market is fully opened to competition, which in turn should enable medical device manufacturers to develop efficiencies that benefit patients, hospitals, and surgeons,” Coorstek CEO Jonathan Coors said in prepared remarks.
“Limited alternatives and affordable care cannot coexist in today’s dynamic healthcare economy,” president Bryan McMillan added. “We are honored to deliver an alternative, substantially equivalent medical grade ceramic material, which will continue to advance our mission of making the world and patients’ lives measurably better.”