Another bunch of patents compiled, with a few notes of varying importance.

  • Important: “Hearing aid” and “hearing device” are quickly becoming inadequate to capture innovations and new players in the ear-level communication field.  Patent applications are proliferating from a variety of sources for diverse technologies and methodologies (e.g., Patent Application 20130272555).  It’s tempting to include them in the Table, but it’s too long already.
  • Time will tell if this is important:  Panasonic garnered a bunch of patents and they did it in record time on most.  I don’t know why Panasonic gets their applications through faster than others.  I also don’t know whether Panasonic cares much, since they sold their Healthcare business unit for $1.67B on October 3rd  to giant US private equity company Kolberg Kravis Roberts & Co. L.P.  (KKR).  The deal (set to finalize next March) includes patents and other intellectual property. KKR is interested in the “expanding global healthcare market” which probably means focusing on Panasonic’s big sellers (e.g., blood glucose monitors for diabetes).  They may exit the hearing aid market but one hearing aid market report speculates that if KKR picks up the hearing aid portion, “only time will tell whether they plan to continue utilizing traditional distribution channels or redirect their efforts toward a direct-to-consumer strategy.”
  • Important to me: I vote for Starkey patent #8542841 .  Anything that reduces time, expense, cumbersomeness and calibration contortions of Real Ear in the clinic gets my vote.  Measuring SPL at the patient’s  tympanic membrane through their own hearing aid as part of the fitting has been a long time coming.
  • Is this important?  US Patent #8545383 is for a “Light Activated Hearing Aid.”  Must be more to that than meets the eye, so to speak, but the title disconcerts.

Increasingly, the titles of hearing aid patents include the word “Method” as inventions move from things-you-can-stick-in-your-ear to ideas about such things.  Programming and software are the stuff of patents now, which takes me briefly back to that recurring theme of patent trolls and patent infringement.

Check out this fascinating NPR podcast about patent attacks, featuring a cameo by Steven Colbert as well as interesting terms such as “shake-down,”  “protection,”  “get money”  and companies with names like “Bullet Proof Technologies of Texas.”  Sounds like an episode of  The Sopranos, set out west and starring Ira Glass.  As this hilarious quote from the show says, the podcast itself was a patent infringement:

Personal Audio … claims it holds a patent used by all podcasters. Podcasters, they say, owe them money. Only catch: their company never made a digital podcast or invented a way to download it into a listening device.

Description

Patent Number

Assignee

Filed

Issued

Input selection for Auditory Devices 8515108 Cochlear Limited (Macquarie University, NSW, AU)

6/16/2008

8/20/2013

Systems, Methods, and Articles of Manufacture for Characterizing Hearing Prosthesis Channel Interaction 8521296 Cochlear Limited (Macquarie University, NSW, AU)

7/18/2011

8/27/2013

Device for Variable-Length Fixing of the Actuator End Piece of an Active Hearing Implant in the Middle Ear 8518112 Heinz Kurz GmbH Hedizintechnik (Dusslingen DE)

9/21/2011

8/27/2013

Artifact Cancellation in Hybrid audio Prostheses 8521297 Med-EL Elektromedizinische Geraete GmbH (innsbruck, AT)

12/11/2009

8/27/2013

Behind-the-Ear Hearing Aid Whose Microphone Is Set in an Entrance of Ear Canal 8526653 Panasonic Corp. (Osaka, Japan)

6/22/2011

9/03/2013

Hearing Aid 8526624 Otion A/S (Smorum, Denmark)

3/20/2012

9/03/2013

Methods and Systems of Automatically Detecting an Impeance of One or More Electrodes in a Cochlear Implant System 8527058 Advance Bionics, LLC (Valencia, CA)

8/10/2012

9/03/2013

Receiver Module for Inflating a Membrane in an Ear Device 8526651 Sonion Nederland BV (Hoofddorp, NL)

1/24/2011

9/03/2013

Occlusion Effect Mitigation and Sound Isolation Device for Orifice Inserted Systems 8522916 Personics Holdings Inc. (Boca Raton, FL)

10/17/2012

9/03/2013

Hearing Aid Device 8532318 Panasonic Corp. (Osaka, Japan)

10/05/2010

9/10/2013

Method and system for Fitting a Hearing Aid 8532320 Widex A/S (Lynge, Denmark)

4/15/2008

9/10/2013

Filter Bank Configuration for a Hearing Device 8532319 Siemens Medical Instruments Pte. Ltd. (Singapore)

7/09/2010

9/10/2013

Computer-Assisted Diagnostic Hearing Test 8529464 Tympany, LLC (The Woodlands, TX)

6/14/2010

9/10/2013

Filter Bank Configuration for a Hearing Device 8532319 Siemens Medial Instruments Pte. Ltd. (Singapore, SG)

7/09/2010

9/10/2013

Hearing device Having One or More In-the-Canal Vibrating Extensions 8532321 Cochlear Limited (Macquarie University, NSW, AU)

7/07/2008

9/10/2013

Method and System for Providing Binaural Hearing Assistance 8532307 Phonak AG (Stafa, CH)

1/30/2007

9/10/2013

Bone Conduction Device for a Single Sided Deaf Recipient 8532322 Cochlear Limited (Macquarie University, NSW, AU)

3/31/2009

9/10/2013

Hearing Device with Frequency shifting and Associated Method 8538053 Siemens Medical Instruments Pte. Ltd. (Singapoer, SG)

1/28/2011

9/17/2013

Hearing Aid 8538056 Panasonic Corp. (Osaka, Japan)

1/13/2012

9/17/2013

Method for Communicating with a Hearing Aid 8538050 Zounds Hearing Inc (Phoenix)

2/17/2006

9/17/2013

Hearing Aid, Computing Device, and Method for Selecting a Hearing Aid Profile 8538049 Audiotoniq Inc. (Austin, Texas)

2/09/2011

9/17/2013

Semi-Permanent Canal Hearing Device and Insertion Method 8538055 InSound Medical Inc. (Newark, Calif.)

2/15/2008

9/17/2013

Systems and Methods for Obtaining Hearing Enhancement Fittings for a Hearing Aid Device 8538033 Sonic Innovations, Inc. (Salt Lake City)

9/01/2009

9/17/2013

Generation of Probe Noise in a feedback Cancellation System 8538052 Oticon A/S (Smorum, Denmark)

6/26/2008

9/17/2013

Remote Programming System for Programmable Hearing Aids 8542842 Richard Zaccaria (Baldwinsville, NY)

1/21/2010

9/24/2013

Cellphone Managed Hearing Eyeglasses 8543061 Suhami Associates ltd (Petah Tikva, Israel)

3/27/2012

9/24/2013

Bone Conduction Device with a Movement Sensor 8542857 Cochlear Limited (NSW, AU)

12/30/2010

9/24/2013

Method to Estimate the sound Pressure Level at Eardrum Using Measurements Away from the Eardrum 8542841 Starkey Laboratories, Inc. (Eden Prairie, MN)

1/11/2010

9/24/2013

Hearing Device with a Space-saving Arrangement of Microphones and Sound Openings 8542858 Siemens Medical Instruments Pte. Ltd. (Singapore)

12/03/2010

9/24/2013

System for Reducing Acoustic feedback in Hearing Aids Using Inter-Aural Signal Transmission, Method and Use 8542855 Oticon A/S (Smorum, Denmark)

7/21/2009

9/24/2013

Hearing Aid 8542856 Panasonic Corp. (Osaka, Japan)

12/01/2010

9/24/2013

Auxiliary Member for Hearing Aid 8548182 Panasonic Corp. (Osaka, Japan)

5/23/2011

10/01/2013

System, Method, Program, and Integrated Circuit for Hearing Aid 8548180 Panasonic Corp. (Osaka, Japan)

11/09/2010

10/01/2013

Light Activated Hearing Aid Device 8545383 Medizinische Hochschule Hannover (Hannover, Germany)

1/30/2009

10/01/2013

Hearing Device with Individually Aligned Electronic Component and Production Method 8548183 Siemens Medical Instruments Pte. Ltd. (Singapore)

2/17/2010

10/01/2013

Hearing Aid Fitting Device 8548179 Panasonic Corp. (Osaka, Japan)

11/29/2011

10/01/2013

Method of Generating an Optimized Venting Channel in a Hearing Instrument 8554352 Siemens Hearing Instruments Inc. (Piscataway, N.J.)

5/07/2009

10/08/2013

Method and Apparatus for Directional Acoustic Fitting of Hearing Aids” 8553897 Dean Robert Gary Anderso (Orem, Utah)

7/23/2009

10/08/2013

Method and Hearing Aid for Changing the Sequence of Program Positions 8553916 Siemens Medical Instruments Pte. Ltd. (Singapore)

4/16/2009

10/08/2013

Method for Actively Reducing Occlusion Comprising Plausibility Check and corresponding Hearing Apparatus 8553917 Siemens Medical Instruments Pte. Ltd. (Singapore)

3/12/2009

10/08/2013

Device and Method to Reduce Ear Wax Clogging of Acoustic Ports, Hearing Aid Sealing System, and Feedback Reduction System 8554350 Personics Holdings Inc. (Boca Raton, Fla)

10/15/2009

10/08/2013

Hearing Aid Adjustment Device, Hearing Aid Adjustment Method, and Program for Hearing Aid Adjustment 8553915 Panasonic Corp. (Osaka, Japan)

2/06/2012

10/08/2013

Hearing Aid Device 8565460 Panasonic Corp. (Osaka, Japan)

10/17/2011

10/22/2013

Hearing Aid 8565456 Panasonic Corp. (Osaka, Japan)

11/02/2011

10/22/2013

Media Player and Adapter for Providing Audio Data to Hearing Aid 8565458 Audiotoniq Inc. (Austin, Texas

3/03/2011

10/22/2013

Hearing Aid Insertion Tool 8571247 John J. Oezer (Bradenton, Fla.)

8/18/2011

10/29/2013

Wireless communication Devce and HAC Module Thereof 8571246 Chi Mei Communication Systems Inc. (New Taipei, Taiwan)

5/31/2011

10/29/2013

Method for adapting Sound in a Hearing Aid Device by Frequency Modification and Such a Device 8571242 Phonak AG (Stafa, Switzerland)

5/30/2008

10/29/2013

Hearing Aid Wireless Network 8571241 GN ReSound A/S (Ballerup, Denmark)

8/17/2010

10/29/2013

 editor’s note:  The Patent Series is updated every two months.  Click links for patents approved in Jan/Feb 2014Nov/Dec 2013September/October 2013Jul/Aug 2013May/Jun 2013Mar/Apr 2013Jan/Feb 2013Nov/Dec 2012

image courtesy of intangible.me