Following the FDA approval of the reSET app for his client Pear Therapeutics, Troy patent attorney Scott Barnett spoke with Inside Counsel about the relatively new field of digital therapeutics and the role of intellectual property in the growth of this new healthcare technology.
Digital therapeutics use computer programs and mobile apps to treat patients for a range of medical and psychological conditions. They are often used in tandem with other treatment plans, such as medications and therapy, although, in some cases, they can replace traditional treatment plans altogether.
One challenge associated with the procurement of IP protection in the field of digital therapeutics is the need to educate patent examiners. Patent examiners, who are organized by technical specialty, are accustomed to seeing very similar types of inventions day-to-day. Accordingly, when negotiating with patent examiners over an entirely new field of innovation, it becomes critical to supply the context and background necessary to frame the issue and facilitate an informed decision.
Fueling the need for strong education is the fact that innovation in healthcare generally follows a “high-risk, high-reward” model, where strong intellectual property rights are often necessary to obtain and protect market share. “Understandably, investors want assurances that the companies they invest with—including Pear—have a competitive edge in the market,” says Barnett. “Exclusive IP rights frequently provide, or enhance, that competitive edge.”
As increased investment spurs growth and revenue, new funds can then be diverted to new technologies, starting the cycle all over again.