Patents are a growing concern in importance the hearing industry, both in number and lawsuits.  MIMs technology is big, especially now that Knowles won a patent ruling allowing it to “develop and improve [MIMs] for the HA industry.”  For those of us unfamiliar with the acronym or its impact on our industry and its company’s stock, Knowles subsequently spelled it out in a July 24 press release:

Knowles achieved a major milestone in the hearing health industry by shipping its two millionth MEMS (Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems) microphone for hearing instruments.  

Starkey has used Knowles’ tiny MIMs mics since 2010 and you’ll find them in other manufacturers’ products, including GN ReSound LiNX.

Manwhile, trouble is brewing at the US Patent Office. Institutional confidence took a hit the other day after two investigative reports questioned competence and efficiency of the patent process.  With over 600K patent filings awaiting review, there is concern about slow processes and lax standards.

Here’s the list for the last two months. Readers can judge the importance of individual entries for themselves.  I’ll have more to say about one of them in a few weeks.  I think it’s a sleeper with big implications.  For those who like to look for needles in haystacks, see if you can find it.

Description Patent Number Assignee Issued
Method and System for Enhancing the Intelligibility of Sounds 8755547 Hear IP Pty Ltd. (Melbourne, Victoria, AU) 6/17/2014
Tools, Systems, and Methods for Inserting a Pre-Curved Electrode Array Portion of a Lead into a Bodily Orifice 8753352 Advanced Bionics AG (Zug, CH) 6/17/2014
Piezoelectric Nanowire Vibration Sensors 8758217 Georgia Tech Research Corporation (Atlanta, GA) 6/24/2014
Bone Conduction Transducer with Improved High Frequency Response 8761416 Osseofon AB (Gothenburg, SE) 6/24/2014
Compensation Current Optimization for Cochlear Implant Systems 8761894 Advanced Bionics AG (Zug, CH) 6/24/2014
Hearing Aid with a Child-Proof Battery Compartment 8767990 Oticon A/S (Smorum, Denmark) 7/01/2014
Methods and Systems for Providing Visual Cues to Assist in Fitting a Cochlear Implant Patient 8768479 Advanced Bionics AG (Zug, CH) 7/01/2014
Method and Apparatus for a Hearing Assistance Device Using MEMS Sensos 8767989 Starkey Laboratories, Inc. (Eden Prairie, MN) 7/01/2014
Method and Apparatus for Hearing Aid Subscription Support 8767986 Starkey Laboratories, Inc. (Eden Prairie, MN) 7/01/2014
Ear Contact Pressure Wave Hearing Aid Switch 8767987 IntriCon Corporation (Arden Hills, MN) 7/01/2014
Method of Manufacturing a Component for a Hearing Aid 8763238 Widex A/S (Lynge, DK) 7/01/2014
Auto-Fit Hearing Aid and Fitting Process Therefor 8767972 Apherma LLC (St. Paul, Minn.) 7/01/2014
Resonant Structure to Mitigate near Field Radiation Generated by Wireless Communication Devices 8766868 Motorola Mobility LLC (Chicago) 7/01/2014
Signal Evaluation in Binaural and Hybrid Hearing Prosthesis Configurations 8768478 Cochlear Limited (Macquarie University, NSW, AU) 7/01/2014
Methods and Systems of Conveying Fine Structure Information to a Cochlear Implant Patient 8768475 Advanced Bionics, LLC (Valencia, CA) 7/01/2014
Methods and Systems of Compensating for a Disabled Electrode 8768476 Advanced Bionics, LLC (Valencia, CA) 7/01/2014
Microphone Module with Sound Pipe 8767982 Invensense, Inc. (San Jose, CA) 7/01/2014
Audio Device, System and Method 8774435 Asius Technologies LLC (Longmont, Colo.) 7/08/2014
Electromagnetic Bone Conduction Hearing Device 8774930 Vibrant Med-El Hearing Technology GmbH (Innsbruck, AT) 7/08/2014
Self-Adjustable and Deforming Hearing Device 8774434 Yong D. Zhao (Simi Valley, Calif.) and Jennifer Jinping Zhao (Simi Valley, Calif.) 7/08/2014
Middle Ear Implant for Otosclerosis 8771167 Vibrant Med-E1 Hearing Technology GmbH (Innsbruck, AT) 7/08/2014
Cochlear Implant Component Having a Unitary Faceplate 8774929 Cochlear Limited (Macquarie University, NSW, AU) 7/08/2014
Tools, Systems, and Methods for Inserting an Electrode Array Portion of a Lead into a Bodily Orifice 8774944 Advanced Bionics AG (Zug, CH) 7/08/2014
Very Low Power MEMS Microphone 8774428 Invensense, Inc. (San Jose, CA) 7/08/2014
Hearing Aid with Improved Magnetic Reception during Wireless Communication 8781143 GN Resound A/S (Ballerup, Denmark) 7/15/2014
Modular Connection Assembly for a Hearing Assistance Device 8781141 Starkey Laboratories, Inc. (Eden Prairie, MN) 7/15/2014
Attachment of a Hook to a Hearing Device 8781144 Phonak AG (Stafa, Switzerland) 7/15/2014
Methods and Systems for Providing near Real Time Messaging to Hearing Impaired User during Telephone Calls 8781510 Mobile Captions Company LLC (San Diego, CA) 7/15/2014
Low-Power Dual-Edge-Triggered Storage Cell with Scan Test Support and Clock Gating Circuit Therefor 8786344 Oticon A/S (Smorum, Denmark) 7/22/2014
Remote Control of Hearing Assistance Devices 878760 Starkey Laboratories Inc. (Eden Prairie, Minn.) 7/22/2014
Frequency Translation in Hearing Assistance Devices Using Additive Spectral Synthesis 8787605 Starkey Laboratories Inc. (Eden Prairie, Minn.) 7/22/2014
Methods and Systems for Minimizing a Perceptual Disturbance Caused by Shorted Electrodes in an Auditory Prosthesis System 8788052 Advanced Bionics AG (Zug, CH) 7/22/2014
Transcutaneous capacitive Data Link 8788051 Cochlear Limited (Macquarie University, NSW, AU) 7/22/2014
Hearing Prosthesis System Having Interchangeable Housings 8788050 Cochlear Limited (Macquarie University, NSW, AU) 7/22/2014
Method and Circuitry for Measurement of Stimulation Current 8788032 Cochlear Limited (Macquarie University, NSW, AU) 7/22/2014
Vibration Isolation in a Bone Conduction Device 8787608 Cochlear Limited (Macquarie University, NSW, AU) 7/22/2014
Percutaneous Bone Conduction Implant 8787607 Cochlear Limited (Macquarie University, NSW, AU) 7/22/2014
Recognition of Implantable Medical Device 8784312 Cochlear Limited (Macquarie University, NSW, AU) 7/22/2014
Manufacturing an Electrode Assembly Having Contoured Electrode Contact Surfaces 8782884 Cochlear Limited (Macquarie University, NSW, AU) 7/22/2014
Implantable Tissue Stimulating Electrode Assembly 8792999 Cochlear Limited (Macquarie University, NSW, AU) 7/29/2014
Headword Sound Processor Case 8792664 Cochlear Limited (Macquarie University, NSW, AU) 7/29/2014
Securable Implantable Component 8790409 Cochlear Limited (Macquarie University, NSW, AU) 7/29/2014
Mechanical Stimulator Having a Quick-Connector 8790237 Cochlear Limited (Macquarie University, NSW, AU) 7/29/2014
Asymmetric Adjustment 8792659 GN Resound A/S (Ballerup, Denmark) 7/29/2014
Hearing Device with an Open Earpiece Having a Short Vent 8792663 GN Resound A/S (Ballerup, Denmark) 7/29/2014
Hearing Aids, Computing Devices, and Methods for Hearing Aid Profile Update 8792661 Audiotoniq Inc. (Austin, Texas) 7/29/2014
Foreign Material Mitigation for Hearing Assistance Device Components 8792665 Starkey Laboratories Inc. (Eden Prairie, Minn.) 7/29/2014
Earphone System and Use of an Earphone System 8792669 Phonak AG (Stafa, Switzerland) 7/29/2014
Hearing System with Analogue Control Element 8792660 Phonak AG (Stafa, Switzerland) 7/29/2014
Hearing Aid, Expansion Unit and Method for Manufacturing a Hearing Aid 8798294 ExSilent Research B.V. (Amsterdam) 8/05/2014
Magnetic Shielding for Communication Device Applications 798299 Starkey Laboratories Inc. (Eden Prairie, Minn.) 8/05/2014
Constrained Layer Damping for Hearing Assistance Devices 8798293 Starkey Laboratories Inc. (Eden Prairie, Minn.) 8/05/2014
Listening System with an Improved Feedback Cancellation System, a Method and Use 8798297 Oticon A/S (Smorum, Denmark) 8/05/2014
Removable Implantable Battery Positioned Inside Implant Coil 8798752 Cochlear Limited (Macquarie University, NSW, AU) 8/05/2014
Method and Device for Automated Observation Fitting 8798757 Cochlear Limited (Macquarie University, NSW, AU) 8/05/2014
Method for Operating a Hearing Device as Well as a Hearing Device 8787603/8798296 Phonak AG (Stafa, Switzerland) 7/22/2014 & 8/05/2014
Method for Deploying Hearing Instrument Fitting Software, and Hearing Instrument Adapted Therefor 8798295 Phonak AG (Stafa, Switzerland) 8/05/2014
Extra-Cochlear Implanted Hearing Aid Device 8805547 Domestic Legacy LP (Indianapolis) 8/12/2014
Ear Tip Piece for Attenuating Sound 8800712 Magnatone Hearing Aid Corp. (Casselberry, Fla) 8/12/2014
Method of Determining Parameters in an Adaptive Audio Processing Algorithm and an Audio Processing System 8804979 Oticon A/S (Smorum, Denmark) 8/12/2014
Control of Low Power or Standby Modes of a Hearing Assistance Device 8804988 Starkey Laboratories Inc. (Eden Prairie, Minn.) 8/12/2014
Hearing Aid Device and Method for Operating a Hearing Aid Device 8811641 Siemens Medical Instruments Pte. Ltd. (Singapore) 8/19/2014
Dual Setting Method for a Hearing System 8811622 Siemens Medical Instruments Pte. Ltd. (Singapore) 8/19/2014
Audible Assistance 8811638 Elwha LLC (Bellevue, Wash) 8/19/2014
Canal Hearing Devices and Batteries for Use with Same 8808906 InSound Medical Inc. (Newark, Calif.) 8/19/2014
Hearing Assistance Apparatus Having Single Multipurpose Control Device and Method of Operation 8811642 Daniel R. Schumaier (Johnson City, Tenn.) 8/19/2014
Range Control for Wireless Hearing Assistance Device Systems 8811639 Starkey Laboratories Inc. (Eden Prairie, Minn.) 8/19/2014
Method and Apparatus for Detecting User Activities from within a Hearing Assistance Device Using a Vibration Sensor 8811637 Starkey Laboratories Inc. (Eden Prairie, Minn.) 8/19/2014
Mechanical Stimulator Having a Quick-Connector 8790237 Cochlear Limited (Macquarie University, NSW, AU) 8/19/2104

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

 

image courtesy of psu edu