Nobel Biocare (VTX:NOBN, OTC:NBHGY) last week sued Neodent, its Brazilian dental implants rival, alleging infringement of patents covering its NobelActive line of dental implants by Straumann subsidiary Neodent’s Drive CM devices.
The lawsuit, filed August 18 in the U.S. District Court for Central California, alleges that the Drive CM products infringe U.S patent 8,714,977 for “Condensing skeletal implant that facilitate insertions” and U.S. patent 8,764,443 “Method for producing a surface structure on an implant, and such an implant,” according to court documents.
“We are committed to enforce our valuable intellectual property rights, which are the result of our industry-leading investment in R&D. We will not tolerate copies of our unique and patented dental implant designs,” Nobel CEO Richard Laube said in prepared remarks.
The lawsuit claims that “Neodent did not undertake any pre-launch training of clinicians or any clinical trials prior to introducing the Drive CM implant in the United States,” according to the documents.
“Instead, Neodent has sought to capitalize on Nobel’s extensive research and development efforts and training and education efforts for the NobelActive implant by suggesting that the Drive CM implant can be used for the same procedures as NobelActive, such as the ‘All-on-4’ procedure developed by Nobel. However, the Drive CM implant is not supported by the extensive clinical data that exists for the NobelActive implant,” the lawsuit alleges. “Neodent offers its Drive CM implants at a price that is substantially less than the NobelActive implant. Neodent is only able to undercut Nobel’s prices because Neodent has not invested the resources into research and development or training and education that Nobel has committed to NobelActive.”
Neodent countered that it “obtained in-depth evaluations to ensure that its designs respected all valid intellectual property rights” before launching the Drive CM device.
“Drive CM incorporates features, such as an innovative connection, which differentiate it from Nobel Biocare’s implant. The current complaint appears to be based on patents that Nobel Biocare obtained after Drive CM was introduced in the USA. Neodent is looking into the allegations carefully and will respond appropriately,” according to a press release.
“The preliminary design of NobelActive was invented and developed by an Israeli team at AlphaBioTec Ltd – not originally by Nobel Biocare, as many people believe. We did our homework before launching our range of implants in the US, especially the Drive CM, and we are confident that we have not infringed any patents”, Neodent USA CEO Tony Susino said in a statement. “In its media release, Nobel Biocare has sent a clear signal to the dental community that our implant is ‘strikingly similar’ to theirs. Nobel sees that we have a very attractive, high-quality alternative.”
Earlier this month Nobel said it doubled its 2nd-quarter profits on strong sales of its dental implants in the U.S. and Asia, even as it reportedly fields interest and at least 1 offer from potential acquirers said to include Swedish private equity player EQT Partners and Danaher (NYSE:DHR).