Patent policing of ear device technologies is big news these days, as are the patent wars they spawn. Nowadays, “Honoring a patent” is less an ethical concept than a court-ordered process; patents are more assets on the balance sheet than they are original inventions.

 

New Definitions for Old Terms and Devices

 

In the words of retired Chief Judge Paul Redmond Michel (US Court of Appeals, Federal Circuit):

“…a patent [is] a ticket to file a lawsuit. That’s all it is. So then patent values follow enforceability. The less enforceable the patent is in various ways, the lower the value of the patent for the whole portfolio.[1]

Patent value/enforceability seems, to the layman, to mean defining an idea broadly enough to cover all that one wants protected, but narrowly enough to be enforceable. Which may explain the title and wording of Samsung’s USPTO #9161138:

Title:  Method for Adapting Sound of Hearing Aid and hearing Aid and Electronic Device Performing the Same.

“Head-worn devices with transceivers for wireless communication with other devices and with other functions that do not require wireless communication are well-known, e.g. hearing aids.”

Samsung’s debut into the hearing aid world may carry a brand other than “hearing aid.”  Let’s hope it’s catchier than “electronic device performing the same.

 

  The Patent List

 

Description Patent Number Assignee Issued
Custom In-Ear Monitor 9113266 Aurisonics, inc. (Nashville, TN) 8/18/2015
Transmitting Audio Control Data to a Hearing Aid Google Inc. (Mountain View, CA) 8/25/2015
Implantable Sound Transmission Device for Magnetic Hearing Aid, and Corresponding Systems, Devices and Components 9119010 Sophono, Inc. (Boulder, CO) 8/25/2015
Systems and Methods for High Power Factor Charging 9118185 Qualcomm Inc. (San Diego, CA) 8/25/2015
Systems and Methods for Controlling Output Power of a Wireless Power Transmitter 9118357 Qualcomm Inc. (San Diego, CA) 8/25/2015
Systems and Methods for Induction Charging with a Closed Magnetic Loop 9118203 Qualcomm Inc. (San Diego, CA) 8/25/2015
Feedback control in a Listening Device 9124986 Oticon A/S (Smorum, Denmark) 9/01/2015
Hearing Aid, Signal Processing Method, and Program 9124984 Panasonic Intellectual Property Management Co. Ltd. (Osaka, Japan) 9/01/2015
Cochlear implant system component having multiple electrode assemblies 9119957 Cochlear Limited (Macquarie University, NSW, AU) 9/01/2015
Methods and Apparatus for Processing Audio Signals 9130523 Oticon A/S (Smorum, Denmark) 9/08/2015
Method and Apparatus for Communication between Hearing Assistance Devices in a Bluetooth Network 9131322 Starkey Laboratories, Inc. (Eden Prairie, MN) 9/08/2015
Method for Selectively Passing or Blocking Environmental Ambient Sound and Switchable Electrical Connections 9131311 Polk Audio, LLC (Baltimore, MD) 9/08/2015
Reduction of Transient Sounds in Hearing Implants 9126041 MED-EL Elektromedizinische Geraete GmbH (Innsbruck, AT) 9/08/2015
Wireless Power Overvoltage Protection Circuit with Reduced Power Dissipation 9130369 Qualcomm Inc. (San Diego, CA) 9/08/2015
Audio Device with a Voice Coil Channel and a Separately Amplified Telecoil Channel 9131320 Apple Inc. (Cupertino, CA) 9/08/2015
Implantable Acoustic Sensor 9126040 Hearworks Pty, Limited (East Melbourne, Victoria, AU) 9/08/2015
Optimizing Operational Control of a Hearing Prosthesis 9131324 Cochlear Limited (Macquarie University, NSW, AU) 9/08/2015
Hearing prosthesis having an implantable actuator system 9131323 Cochlear Limited (Macquarie University, NSW, AU) 9/08/2015
Method and system for providing hearing assistance to a user 9131318 Sonova AG (Stafa, CH) 9/08/2015
Portable power charging of implantable medical devices 9132276 Cochlear Limited (Macquarie University, NSW, AU) 9/15/2015
Hearing Aid Comprising a Feedback Alarm 9137612 Oticon A/S (Smorum, Denmark) 9/15/2015
Bone Anchored Hearing Aid with Adjustable Resonance Damping 9137614 Oticon A/S (Smorum, Denmark) 9/15/2015
Ear strap for a probe tube 9137615 Oticon A/S (Smorum, Denmark) 9/15/2015
Metal Air Cathode Manganese Oxide Contained in Octahedral Molecular Sieve 9136540 Spectrum Brands, Inc. (Madison, WI) 9/15/2015
Wireless Sound Transmission System and Method 137613 Sonova AG (Stafa, CH) 9/15/2015
Moisture resistant headpieces and implantable cochlear stimulation systems including the same 9132270 Advanced Bionics AG (Zug, CH) 9/15/2015
Blast Attenuating Earplug 9138352 The Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore, MD) 9/22/2015
In-Ear Earpiece and Expansion Adaptor 9143855 Sennheiser Electronics GmbH & Co KG (Wedemark, DE) 9/22/2015
Method and System for Self-Managed Sound Enhancement 9138178 Ace Communications Ltd. (Hong Kong Sar, China) 9/22/2015
Micro Converter, Audio Device and Hearing Aid 9143871 Exsilent Research B.V. (Amsterdam) 9/22/2015
Bottom Port Surface Mount MEMS Microphone 9139422 Knowles Electronics, LLC (Itasca, IL) 9/22/2015
Systems, Methods, and Apparatus for Small Device Wireless Charging Modes 912999 Qualcomm Inc. (San Diego, CA) 9/22/2015
Hearing device comprising a locking mechanism for an external connector and method 9143874 Sonova AG (Stafa, CH) 9/22/2015
Wireless Streaming Link Break-In 9143872 Cochlear Limited (Macquarie University, NSW, AU) 9/22/2015
Inter-chip communications for implantable stimulating devices 9141576 Cochlear Limited (Macquarie University, NSW, AU) 9/22/2015
Methods and Apparatus for Transmitting Vibrations 9143873 Abolfathi, Amir A.  (Woodside, CA) 9/22/2015
Vestibular Implant System with Internal and External Motion Sensors 914467 Med-El Elektromedizinische Geraete GmbH (Innsbruck, AT) 9/29/2015
Systems and Methods for Calibration of a Wireless Power Transmitter 9148201 Qualcomm Inc. (San Diego, CA) 9/29/2015
Method for Testing Hearing Aids 9148732 Sivantos Pte. Ltd. (Singapore SG) 9/29/2015
Implant Magnet System 9144676 Cochlear Limited (Macquarie University, NSW, AU) 9/29/2015
Feedback Path Evaluation Implemented with Limited Signal Processing 9148734 Cochlear Limited (Macquarie University, NSW, AU) 9/29/2015
Automatic Power-Off of Hearing Aid 9148737 Widex A/S (Lynge, DK) 9/29/2015
Reduced Power Usage for a Hearing Prosthesis Having Transcutaneous Power and Data Transfer 9148736 Cochlear Limited (Macquarie University, NSW, AU) 9/29/2015
Hearing Aid with Improved Localization 9148733 & 9148735 GN Resound A/S (Ballerup, Denmark) 9/29/2015
Device, Method, and Program for Adjustment of Hearing Aid 9149202 Panasonic Intellectual Property Management Co. Ltd. (Osaka, Japan) 10/02/2015
Mobile Communication Watch Utilizing Projected Directional Sound 9152130 PH Technical Labs LLC (Plano, Texas) 10/06/2015
System and Method for Hearing Aid Appraisal and Selection 9154888 Eastern Ontario Audiology Consultants (L’Original, Canada) 10/06/2015
Hearing instrument with a balloon and a separate sound channel and air supply channel 9154892 Sivantos Pte. Ltd. (Singapore SG) 10/06/2015
Wireless data transmission with predictive transmission adjustment 9154890 Cochlear Limited (Macquarie University, NSW, AU) 10/06/2015
Hearing Aid Having Level and Frequency-Dependent Gain 9154889 Meyer Sound Laboratories, Inc. (Berkeley, CA) 10/06/2015
Hearing System Having Improved High Frequency Response 9154891 EarLens Corp (Menlo Park, CA) 10/06/2015
Wireless Power Orthogonal Polarization Antenna Array 9153998 Qualcomm Inc. (San Diego, CA) 10/06/2015
Wireless Power System with Capacitive Proximity Sensing 9154189 Qualcomm Inc. (San Diego, CA) 10/06/2015
BTE Hearing Instrument with Housing and Sound Tube 9161143 Sivantos Pte. Ltd. (Singapore SG) 10/13/2015
Cochlear Implant Systems Including Magnetic Flux Redirection Means 9155888 Advanced Bionics AG (Zug, CH) 10/13/2015
Dynamic Audio Parameter Adjustment Using Touch Sensing 9160829 Apple Inc. (Cupertino, Calif) 10/13/2015
Stereo Audio Headphone Apparatus for a User Having a Hearing Loss and Related Methods 9161131 K&E Holdings LLC (Lakeland, Fla) 10/13/2015
Push Button Insertion Tool Systems 9161142 Dennis Wagner (Nescopeck, PA) 10/13/2015
Earmolds 9161114 Treefrog Developments, Inc. (San Diego, CA) 10/13/2015
Medical Device Battery Charging System and Methods 9155900 Cochlear Limited (Macquarie University, NSW, AU) 10/13/2015
Medical Device Diagnostics Using a Portable Device 9158891 Cochlear Limited (Macquarie University, NSW, AU) 10/13/2015
Optical Microphone for Implantable Hearing Instrument 9155660 Cochlear Limited (Macquarie University, NSW, AU) 10/13/2015
Medical Device for Lessening the Effects of Noise and Interference from Varying or Alternating Magnetic Fields 9161140 Cochlear Limited (Macquarie University, NSW, AU) 10/13/2015
Fitting an auditory prosthesis 9155886 Cochlear Limited (Macquarie University, NSW, AU) 10/13/2015
Method and Apparatus for Detecting Cellular Telephones for Hearing Assistance Devices 9161139 Starkey Laboratories, Inc. (Eden Prairie, MN) 10/13/2015
Telecommunications Methods and Systems Providing User Specific Audio Optimization 9161136 Avaya Inc. (Basking Ridge, NJ) 10/13/2015
Mixing of In-the-Ear Microphone and Outside-the-Ear Microphone Signals to Enhance Spatial Perception 9161137 Starkey Laboratories, Inc. (Eden Prairie, MN) 10/13/2015
Head-Worn Device with Flight Mode 9161138 GN Resound A/S (Ballerup, Denmark) 10/13/2015
Methods and Systems for Observation of Tympanic Function 9155459 Polytechnic Institute (Worcester, MA) 10/13/2015
Corded Hearing Protective Device and Method of Manufacturing the Same 9155661 3M Innovative Properties Company (St. Paul, MN) 10/13/2015
Method and Device for Encoding a High Frequency Signal, and Method and Device for Decoding a High Frequency Signal 9161038 Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd. (Shenzhen, CN) 10/13/2015
Wireless Charging System for Hearing Instruments 9161141 Siemens Aktiengesellschaft (Munich, DE) 10/13/2015
Electrode with Movable Insertion Stopper 9155880 MED-EL Elektromedizinische Geraete GmbH (Innsbruck, AT) 10/13/2015
Threshold-derived fitting method for frequency translation in hearing assistance devices 9167366 Starkey Laboratories, Inc. (Eden Prairie, MN) 10/20/2015
Antennas for custom fit hearing assistance devices 9167360 Starkey Laboratories, Inc. (Eden Prairie, MN) 10/20/2015
Electrooculogram as a control in a hearing assistance device 9167356 Starkey Laboratories, Inc. (Eden Prairie, MN) 10/20/2015
Implantable Receptacle for a Hearing Aid Component 9167362 OtiKinetics, Inc. (Cincinnati, OH) 10/20/2015
Method for the Binaural Left-Right Localization for Hearing Instruments 9167358 Sivantos Pte. Ltd. (Singapore SG) 10/20/2015
Valve apparatus, hearing device with the valve apparatus, and method

 

9167328 Sivantos Pte. Ltd. (Singapore SG) 10/20/2015
Method for the binaural left-right localization for hearing instruments 9167357 Sivantos Pte. Ltd. (Singapore SG) 10/20/2015
Hearing system and method for operating a hearing system 9167359 Sonova AG (Stafa, CH) 10/20/2015
Smoothing power consumption of an active medical device 9167361 Cochlear Limited (Macquarie University, NSW, AU) 10/20/2015
Magnetic induction communication system for an implantable medical device 9166655 Cochlear Limited (Macquarie University, NSW, AU) 10/20/2015
Post-filter common-gain determination 9166546 Cochlear Limited (Macquarie University, NSW, AU) 10/20/2015
Implantable component interface 9162054 Cochlear Limited (Macquarie University, NSW, AU) 10/20/2015
Drug delivery using a sacrificial host 9162009 Cochlear Limited (Macquarie University, NSW, AU) 10/20/2015
Speech enhancement system and method 9173028 Sonova AG (Stafa, CH) 10/27/2015
Method for Fine Tuning a Hearing Aid 9173043 Widex A/S (Lynge, DK) 10/27/2015

Editor’s note:  The Patent Series is updated every two months.  Click links for patents approved in Jul/Aug 2015, May/Jun 2015,  Mar/Apr 2015Jan/Feb 2015,  Nov/Dec 2014,  Sep/Oct 2014,  July/Aug 2014,  May/Jun 2014,  Mar/Apr 2014,  Jan/Feb 2014Nov/Dec 2013September/October 2013Jul/Aug 2013May/Jun 2013Mar/Apr 2013Jan/Feb 2013Nov/Dec 2012

feature image adapted from hearing tracker

References    (↵ returns to text)

  1. http://www.ipwatchdog.com/2015/05/12/judge-michel-says-congress-stuck-in-a-time-warp-on-patent-reform/id=57648/