US Hearing Device Patent Activity for November-December 2015

On January 7, the Oticon vs GN Resound patent war came to an end with scarcely a shot fired.  Settling a “slew of patent disputes” was good news for Big 6 bottom line solidarity and uninterrupted technological innovation.


Words, Words, Words


While the FDA continues its decade-long struggle to parse and define ear technology, the innovators have moved on to an inclusive vision of auditory processing. “Hearing aid” shows up in 16 patent titles in today’s list (below). By comparison, 19 titles  capture audio innovations with more comprehensive words and phrases (e.g., ear/hearing/listening devices, instruments, systems for hearing, hearing assistance).   Consider verbiage paraphrased from recent patent documents (bold added):

“A personal hearing system may comprise…one or two hearing aids, also denoted as hearing prostheses, external and/or implanted … hearing protectorscommunication devices allowing individuals to speak to each other remotely, inconspicuously and/or in noisy environments … headsets…. auxiliary components (remote controls, audio streaming devices, or fitting interface devices).  Typically all components of a personal hearing system are designed such that they can be carried at least temporarily at the body of its user.From Phonak patent application #20150296308.{{1}}[[1]]Method for Providing Distant Support to a Personal Hearing System User and System for Implementing Such a Method.  USPTO Application #20150296308.[[1]]

Ear-level devices, including headphones, earphones, head sets, hearing aids and the like, are adapted to be worn at the ear of a user and provide personal sound processing. {{2}}[[2]]Personalized Hearing Profile Generation with Real-Time Feedback. USPTO 9197971.[[2]]


Remote but Personal


Ear devices remain on the ears for now, but their innards are moving off to remote servers to which wearers have personal, if not intimate, relationships or “templates.”  FDA approved online hearing testing is already with us.  Here is a sampling of next-step visions:

“… The rise of the Internet has offered the possibility for the development of personalization techniques that flow from on-line testing.  User-specific acoustic adjustment parameters [for improving speech intelligibility] are stored as templates in a central location. A user can access a template [by providing an ID to the server] … for application to a communication session by connection to the central location [and it] … can be applied on behalf of the user for use in connection with different user devices or communication endpoints.” USPTO 9197971.

“The intelligibility of speech …and a set of acoustic adjustment parameters is determined for the user [which] is placed in central store, for example … a server.” USPTO 9161136.


The Patent List


DescriptionPatent NumberAssigneeIssued
Systems and Methods for Forward Link Communication in Wireless Power Systems9166439Qualcomm Inc. (San Diego, CA)10/20/2015
Microphone Module with Sound Pipe9173015Invensense, Inc. (San Jose, CA)10/27/2015
Noise Mitigating Microphone System9173024Invensense, Inc. (San Jose, CA)10/27/2015
Bone Anchor Fixture for a Medical Prosthesis9173042Cochlear Limited (Macquarie University, NSW, AU)10/27/2015
Apparatus and Method for Ultra Wideband Communication Using Dual Band Pass Filter9172425Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. (Suwon-si, KR)10/27/2015
Enhancing Perception of Frequency-Lowered Speech9173041Purdue Research Foundation (West Lafayette, IN)10/27/2015
Drug Eluting Cochlear Implants9162010Tepha, Inc. (Lexington, MA)10/28/2015
Audio system with feedback cancellation9179223GN Resound A/S (Ballerup, Denmark)11/03/2015
Antennas for Standard Fit Hearing Assistance Devices9179227Starkey Laboratories, Inc. (Eden Prairie, MN)11/03/2015
Device for Cleaning a Hearing Aid9174248MG Development (Perols, France)11/03/2015
System and Method for Measuring and Validating the Occlusion Effect of a Hearing Aid User9179230Widex A/S (Lynge, DK)11/03/2015
Hearing device with adaptive feedback-path estimation9179224Oticon A/S (Smorum, Denmark)11/03/2015
Hearing Aid Device9179225Panasonic Intellectual Property Management Co. Ltd. (Osaka, Japan)11/03/2015
Systems Devices, Components and Methods for Providing Acoustic Isolation between Microphones and Transducers in Bone Conduction Magnetic Hearing Aids9179228Sophono, Inc. (Boulder, CO)11/03/2015
Treatment And/Or Prevention of Inner Ear Conditions by Modulation of a Metabotropic Glutamate Receptor9173864House Ear Institute (Los Angeles, CA)11/03/2015
Partially Implantable Hearing Device9179226Advanced Bionics AG (CH)11/03/2015
Speech processor cases9179229Advanced Bionics AG (Zug, CH)11/03/2015
Systems and Methods for Facilitating Time-Based Fitting by a Sound Processor9179231Advanced Bionics AG (CH)11/03/2015
Signal Processing for Hearing Prostheses9179222Cochlear Limited (Macquarie University, NSW, AU)11/03/2015
Method and device for intracochlea impedance measurement9273585Cochlear Limited (Macquarie University, NSW, AU)11/03/2015
Impact protection for implantable electric lead9174039MED-EL Elektromedizinische Geraete GmbH (Innsbruck, AT)11/03/2015
Method of improving a long term feedback path estimate in a listening device9185505Oticon A/S (Smorum, Denmark)11/10/2015
Hearing device with two or more microphones and two or more resonators having different lengths and the same resonant frequency9185498Oticon A/S (Smorum, Denmark)11/10/2015
Compression of spaced sources for hearing assistance devices9185500Starkey Laboratories, Inc. (Eden Prairie, MN)11/10/2015
Method and Computer Program Product of Processing Sound Segment and Hearing Aid9185497Unlimiter MFA CO. Ltd. (Eden Island, Seychelles)11/10/2015
Binaural Hearing Aid with Frequency Unmasking9185499GN Resound A/S (Ballerup, Denmark)11/10/2015
Methods and Apparatus for Processing Audio Signals918585Sonitus Medical Inc. (San Mateo, CA)11/10/2015
Domes for a receiver-in-the-canal hearing instrument9185503Sivantos Pte. Ltd. (Singapore SG)11/10/2015
Tonotopic implant stimulation9180295MED-EL Elektromedizinische Geraete GmbH (Innsbruck, AT)11/10/2015
Modular Adapter Assembly for Telecoil and Auxiliary Audio Input Device Mixing9191751Advanced Bionics AG (CH)11/17/2015
Entrainment Avoidance with an Auto Regressive Filter9191752Starkey Laboratories, Inc. (Eden Prairie, MN)11/17/2015
Hearing Aid with Inductively Coupled Electromagnetic Resonator Antenna9191757Starkey Laboratories, Inc. (Eden Prairie, MN)11/17/2015
Spatial enhancement mode for hearing aids9191755Starkey Laboratories, Inc. (Eden Prairie, MN)11/17/2015
Assisting Conversation in Noisy Environments9190043Bose Corporation (Framingham, MA)11/17/2015
Contoured Battery Case Based on Cell Shapes9190642Eaglepicher Technologies, LLC (Joplin, MO)11/17/2015
Custom Fit In-Ear Monitor Utilizing a Single Piece Driver Module9191758Logitech Europe, S.A. (Lausanne, CH)11/17/2015
Systems and Methods for Detecting Wireless Charging Transmit Characteristics9190876Qualcomm Inc. (San Diego, CA)11/17/2015
Data Transmission through a Recipient’S Skull Bone9191759Cochlear Limited (Macquarie University, NSW, AU)11/17/2015
Optimal Pre-Load for Floating Mass Transducers9191760Vibrant Med-El Hearing Technology GmbH (Innsbruck, AT)11/17/2015
Method for Automatically Setting a Piece of Equipment and Classifier9191754Sivantos Pte. Ltd. (Singapore SG)11/17/2015
Hearing Aid and a Method of Enhancing Speech Reproduction9191753Widex A/S (Lynge, DK)11/17/2015
Personalized Hearing Profile Generation with Real-Time Feedback9197971CVF, LLC (Chicago, IL)11/24/2015
Push-Pull Driver with Stage Inversion and Method of Operation9196418Qualcomm Inc. (San Diego, CA)11/24/2015
Methods and apparatus for reducing ambient noise based on annoyance perception and modeling for hearing-impaired listeners9197970Starkey Laboratories, Inc. (Eden Prairie, MN)11/24/2015
Dynamic negotiation and discovery of hearing aid features and capabilities by fitting software to provide forward and backward compatibility9197972Starkey Laboratories, Inc. (Eden Prairie, MN)11/24/2015
RF transmitter for electrically short antenna9203446Oticon A/S (Smorum, Denmark)12/01/2015
Method of identifying a wireless communication channel in a sound system9204232Oticon A/S (Smorum, Denmark)12/01/2015
Method for adjusting a hearing device as well as an arrangement for adjusting a hearing device9204226Sonova AG (Stafa, CH)12/01/2015
Electronic Earplug for Providing Communication and Protection9198800Etymotic Research, Inc. (Elk Grove Village, IL)12/01/2015
Noise Reduction System for Hearing Assistance Devices9204227Starkey Laboratories, Inc. (Eden Prairie, MN)12/01/2015
Independent volume control in electro-acoustic stimulation systems –9204230Advanced Bionics AG (Zug, CH)12/01/2015
Independent volume control in a bilateral auditory prosthesis system9204231Advanced Bionics AG (Zug, CH)12/01/2015
Waterproof Acoustic Element Enclosures and Apparatus Including the Same9204229Advanced Bionics AG (Zug, CH)12/01/2015
Methods and systems for optimizing speech and music perception by a bilateral cochlear implant patient9199079Advanced Bionics AG (Zug, CH)12/01/2015
Hearing Instrument with Plug-In Sound Tube Connection, Corresponding Case and Sound Tube9204228Sivantos Pte. Ltd. (Singapore SG)12/01/2015
Hearing assistance device with brain computer interface9210517Oticon A/S (Smorum, Denmark)12/08/2015
Hearing Aid9210522GN Resound A/S (Ballerup, Denmark)12/08/2015
Ear to ear communication using wireless low energy transport9210520Starkey Laboratories, Inc. (Eden Prairie, MN)12/08/2015
Method and apparatus for microphone matching for wearable directional hearing device using wearer’s own voice9210518Starkey Laboratories, Inc. (Eden Prairie, MN)12/08/2015
Abutment Attachment Systems, Mechanisms, Devices, Components and Methods for Bone Conduction Hearing Aids9210521Sophono, Inc. (Boulder, CO)12/08/2015
Hearing assistance system and method9210519Sonova AG (Stafa, CH)12/08/2015
Hearing assistance system and method92115535Sonova AG (Stafa, CH)12/15/2015
Hearing Aid and Method of Implanting a Hearing Aid9215537Advanced Bionics AG (CH)12/15/2015
Uncomfortable Sound Pressure Determination System, Method and Program Thereof, Hearing Aid Adjustment System, and Uncomfortable Sound Pressure Determination Apparatus9215533Panasonic Intellectual Property Management Co. Ltd. (Osaka, Japan)12/15/2015
Pump Facility for a Hearing Device and Method of Inflating and Deflating an Earmold Member9212658Sivantos Pte. Ltd. (Singapore SG)12/15/2015
Hearing Aid and Method of Implanting a Hearing Aid9215537Advanced Bionics AG (CH)12/15/2015
Steerable stylet9211403Advanced Bionics AG (CH)12/15/2015
Multi-Band Integrated Speech Separating Microphone Array Processor with Adaptive Beamforming9215527Cirrus Logic, Inc. (Austin TX)12/15/2015
Switching Structures for Hearing Aid9215534Starkey Laboratories, Inc. (Eden Prairie, MN)12/15/2015
Hearing Assistance System and Method9215535Sonova AG (Stafa, CH)12/15/2015
Body-worn control apparatus for hearing devices9219965Oticon A/S (Smorum, Denmark)12/22/2015
Location based assistance using hearing instruments9219966Starkey Laboratories, Inc. (Eden Prairie, MN)12/22/2015
Hearing assistance system with own voice detection9219964Starkey Laboratories, Inc. (Eden Prairie, MN)12/22/2015
Stimulation prosthesis with configurable data link9216288Cochlear Limited (Macquarie University, NSW, AU)12/22/2015
Hearing protection earpiece9216113Sonova AG (Stafa, CH)12/22/2015
Hearing aid with means for estimating the ear plug fitting9226082Widex A/S (Lynge, DK)12/29/2015
Method of operating a hearing aid and a hearing aid9226084Widex A/S (Lynge, DK)12/29/2015
Inflatable ear mold with protected inflation air inlet9226086Sivantos Pte. Ltd. (Singapore SG)12/29/2015
Noise estimation for use with noise reduction and echo cancellation in personal communication9224393Oticon A/S (Smorum, Denmark)12/29/2015

Editor’s note:  The Patent Series is updated every two months.  Click links for patents approved in  Sept/Oct 2015,  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 courtesy of born bibliophile

About Holly Hosford-Dunn

Holly Hosford-Dunn, PhD, graduated with a BA and MA in Communication Disorders from New Mexico State, completed a PhD in Hearing Sciences at Stanford, and did post-docs at Max Planck Institute (Germany) and Eaton-Peabody Auditory Physiology Lab (Boston). Post-education, she directed the Stanford University Audiology Clinic; developed multi-office private practices in Arizona; authored/edited numerous text books, chapters, journals, and articles; and taught Marketing, Practice Management, Hearing Science, Auditory Electrophysiology, and Amplification in a variety of academic settings.