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Appeal Proceedings on European VisionBlue Patent Stayed; Patent Remains in Force

ZUIDLAND, The Netherlands, May 20 /PRNewswire/ -- The Technical Board of Appeal of the European Patent Office has postponed its final decision on two appeals lodged by two competitors against an earlier decision to maintain the European patent for VisionBlue.

(Photo: )

(Photo: )

Introduced in 1999, the VisionBlue product is protected by US patent US 6,720,314 and European patent EP 1 075 285. However, after the European Patent was granted, three European manufacturers of copy cat products started opposition proceedings against the European Patent. The result of these proceedings was that the patent was maintained, after which two of the opponents appealed from the decision.

The Technical Board of Appeal of the European Patent Office decided during a hearing in Munich on the 14th of May 2009 to await the answers to legal questions concerning the patentability of medical treatments before coming to a final decision on the validity of the patent. These answers from the Enlarged Board of Appeal of the European Patent Office are expected at the latest in January 2010.

Requests of the opponents to deal with their objections for lack of novelty and inventive step before the proceedings were stayed, were rejected. They argued that the patent should be revoked on these grounds and that therefore a stay of the proceedings would not be necessary. D.O.R.C. believes that the rejection of these requests is a strong indication that the Board of Appeal expects to confirm the validity of the patent once the answers to the legal questions have clarified that features of a medical treatment can be used to define patentable inventions.

In the meantime, the VisionBlue patent remains fully in force and offers the possibility to fight the sales of copies of the VisionBlue product in Europe, which may be produced under less strict quality standards. This means that D.O.R.C. remains the only company in Europe that can legally promote and sell VisionBlue, or any other staining product based on trypan blue for cataract / anterior capsule staining.

VisionBlue profile

The D.O.R.C. product 'VisionBlue' is a staining liquid, used as an aid by the eye surgeon during cataract surgery. VisionBlue facilitates the visualization of the anterior lens capsule and may prevent an incomplete removal of the anterior lens, radial capsule tears and associated complications.

VisionBlue was introduced in 1999 and is still growing in popularity among cataract surgeons. Since 2004 VisionBlue has been approved by the US FDA (Food and Drug Administration), the ultimate recognition of our product quality, which is underpinned by validated production processes stabilization studies and safety studies. VisionBlue has a safety track record of more than 3 million surgeries.

Company profile

Since the foundation in 1983, D.O.R.C. has developed into a market leader in research, development and production of products for eye surgery, especially products for vitreoretinal and cataract surgery. Our products are used by eye surgeons worldwide, because of the high quality development and because our products are known for their state-of-the-art design, quality and craftsmanship.

D.O.R.C. has its own research and development department and is receiving a continuous feedback from market developments and market queries regarding high quality eye surgery products, disposable products and electronic equipment.

D.O.R.C. has continuously engaged in worldwide cooperative undertakings with leading surgeons. These cooperations have resulted in the introduction of multiple unique products for the ophthalmic market. The innovation quote of DORC is at a level of 10% of the turnover.

D.O.R.C. exports its products to more than 90 countries worldwide, through an extensive, exclusive distributor network having its own sales offices in the USA, Middle-East, Germany, France, Scandinavia, Belgium and the Netherlands. The D.O.R.C. companies employ about 190 people.


Staining of the anterior lens capsule with VisionBlue.(Photographs by courtesy of Dr. G.R.J. Melles)

SOURCE D.O.R.C. International b.v.
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