Let’s launch the New Year with an exciting list of new patent approvals, in the tradition of previous posts, continuing the momentum started by E.G. Hyde in 1855 with the first US hearing aid patent (#12,951 shown above).

If “exciting” doesn’t sound like  the right word, how about “contentious” or at least  “competitive”?  The numbers tell the story of the fight for the right to control ideas and technologies:  The US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTOreports more than 576,000 applications in 2012, compared to 176,000 in 1990.   The overwhelmed USPTO stands accused by its own government of granting intellectual property patents that are “overly broad or vague.”

Unclear ownership rights, coupled with  the dual realizations that intellectual patents are more valuable assets than previous thought and can bring big bucks with infringement judgments, are the main reasons given for a sudden annual increase of 1/3 in patent infringement federal lawsuits in 2011.  Congress revved up at the end of 2013, with bills  in the House and in the Senate aimed at reducing abusive patent practices, though neither takes on  the bedrock problem of vague, broad patents.  Hearing Economics will keep watching in 2014 to see if the slings and arrows of patent practices touch our tiny patch of technology.

Today’s list features Panasonic as the winner in the Patent-for-Ideas-With-Very-Long-Names category.  Panasonic could care less (their profits these days come from building houses and making Tesla car batteries), except that old patent applications are valuable assets to KKR, which is in the process of acquiring Panasonic Healthcare.  Advanced Bionics wins and sets a new record in the Fastest-Application-to-Patent-Approval category– less than 8 months unless it’s a typo.  And, back by popular demand, another patent awarded to Medizinische Hochschule for the fabled “light activated hearing device,” which is already in human tests and more interesting than you’d think (hints:  think TV Ears for your ear canals, with mineral oil assistance).

Description

Patent Number

Assignee

Filed

Issued

Signal Processing Using Spatial Filter 8565459 Rasmussen Digital APS (Charlottenlund, DK)

10/05/2007

10/22/2013

Determining Operating Parameters for a Stimulating Medical Device 8571675 Cochlear Limited (Macquarie University, NSW, AU)

4/20/2007

10/29/2013

System for Estimating Sound Pressure Levels at the Tympanic Membrane Using Pressure-Minima Based Distance 571224 Starkey Laboratories, Inc. (Eden Prairie, MN)

8/07/2009

10/29/2013

Method for Suppressing Feedback and for Spectral Extension in Hearing Devices 8571243 Siemens Audiologische Technik GmbH (Erlangen, DE)

5/03/2007

10/29/2013

Bone Conductive Devices for Improving Hearing 8568291 Vibrant Med-El Hearing Technology GmbH (Innsbruck, AT).

6/26/2012

10/29/2013

Hearing Assistance Suitability Determining Device, Hearing Assistance Adjustment System, and Hearing Assistance Suitability Determining Method 8571245 Panasonic Corporation (Osaka, Japan)

6/15/2010

10/29/2013

Open Ear Canal Hearing Aid 857067 ARIA Innovations Inc (Palo Alto, CA)

4/18/2013

11/05/2013

Method and Hearing Aid for Enhancing the Accuracy of Sounds Heard by a Hearing-Impaired Listener 8582792 Yang: Kuo-Ping (Taipei, TW)

4/06/2011

11/12/2013

Hearing Aid and Computing Device for Providing Audio Labels 8582790 Audiotoniq Inc. (Austin, Texas)

2/08/2011

11/12/2013

Hearing Aid Circuit for Detecting a Connector 8582791 Audiotoniq Inc. (Austin, Texas)

4/07/2011

11/12/2013

Hearing Enhancement Systems 8582789 IpVenture, Inc. (Los Altos, CA)

6/06/2008

11/12/2013

Systems, Methods, and Articles of Manufacture for Configuring Hearing Prostheses 8583248 Cochlear Limited (AU)

7/05/2011

11/12/2013

Methods and Systems for Providing Visual Cues to Assist in Fitting a Cochlear Implant Patient 8583247 Advanced Bionics AG (Zug, CH)

7/30/2010

11/12/2013

Methods and Systems for Archiving Patient Data Used to Fit a Cochlear Implant System to a Patient 8583245 Advanced Bionics AG (Zug, CH)

7/30/2010

11/12/2013

Methods and Systems for Selectively Performing a Quick Initialization of a Sound Processor 8583244 Advanced Bionics AG (Zug, CH)

7/30/2010

11/12/2013

Robust Diaphragm for an Acoustic Device 8582795 The Research Foundation of State University of New York (Binghamton, NY)

1/25/2011

11/12/2013

Method and Hearing Device for Feedback Recognition and Suppression with a Directional Microphone 8588444 Siemens Medical Instruments Pte. Ltd. (Singapore, SG)

12/22/2010

11/19/2013

Spectral Profile Adjustment of Incoming Audio Signals for Cochlear Implant Patients 8588923 Advanced Bionics AG (Zug, CH)

2/22/2013

11/19/2013

Hearing Aid Processing Apparatus, Adjustment Apparatus, Hearing Aid Processing System, Hearing Aid Processing Method, and Program and Integrated Circuit 8588445 Panasonic Corporation (Osaka, Japan)

1/08/2009

11/19/2013

Methods and Systems for Presenting Audible Cues to Assist in Fitting a Bilateral Cochlear Implant Patient 8588922 Advanced Bionics AG (Zug, CH)

7/30/2010

11/19/2013

Shielding of Behind-the-Ear Hearing Aids 8588446 Daniel D. Brunda (Ewing, N.J.)

12/29/2008

11/19/2013

Multipurpose Antenna Unit and a Hearing Aid Comprising a Multipurpose Antenna Unit 8587488 Oticon A/S (Smoerum, Denmark)

8/13/2008

11/19/2013

Automatic Gain Control 8587376 NXP, B.V. (Eindhoven, NL)

7/26/2011

11/19/2013

Methods and Apparatus for Transmitting Vibrations 8588447 Sonitus Medical Inc. (San Mateo, Calif.)

7/17/2012

11/19/2013

Hearing Aid and Method of Estimating Dynamic Gain Limitation in a Hearing Aid 8594354 Widex A/S (Lynge, Denmark)

9/29/2008

11/26/2013

Hearing Aid with Occlusion Suppression and Subsonic Energy Control 8594353 GN ReSound A/S (Ballerup, Denmark)

9/22/2011

11/26/2013

Method for Controlling the Directionality of the Sound Receiving Characteristic of a Hearing Aid and a Signal Processing Apparatus 8600086 Widex A/S (Lynge, Denmark)

3/10/2011

12/03/2013

Hearing Aid and In-the-Ear-Device 8600090 Siemens Medical Instruments Pte. Ltd. (Singapore)

3/13/2009

12/03/2013

Light Activated Hearing Device 8600089 Medizinische Hochschule Hannover (Hannover, Germany)

2/01/2010

12/03/2013

Hearing Aid Positioning System and Structure 605927 IntriCon Corp. (Arden Hills, Minn.)

9/27/2011

12/10/2013

Right/left Detection in Hearing Aids 8605913 Siemens Medical Instruments Pte.Ltd.(Singapore)

9/16/2009

12/10/2013

Implantable Actuator for Hearing Aid Applications 8602964 Cochlear Ltd. (Macquarie University, Australia)

11/30/2005

12/10/2013

Acoustic Processing Method and Apparatus

8605925 Cochlear Ltd. (Macquarie University, Australia)

5/29/2009

12/10/2013

Hook for a Hearing Aid 8605928 Widex A/S (Lynge, Denmark)

10/30/2007

12/10/2013

Hearing Aid with Audio Shoe 8611573 Siemens Medical Instruments Pte.Ltd.(Singapore)

4/11/2011

12/17/2013

Data Storage System, Hearing Aid, and Method of Selectively Applying Sound Filters 8611570 Audiotoniq Inc. (Austin, Texas)

5/16/2011

12/17/2013

Method and Apparatus for Audio Processing 8611557 J. Craig Oxford (Nashville, Tenn.) and D. Michael Shields (St. Paul, Minn.).

8/17/2008

12/17/2013

Device and Method for Controlling the Step Size of an Adaptive Filter 8611572 Siemens Audiologische Technik GmbH (Erlangen, Germany)

6/26/2007

12/17/2013

 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