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Intuitive Surgical navigation patent's validity to face US Patent Office review

The U.S. Patent Office's Patent Trial and Appeal Board will review Johnson & Johnson's challenge of Intuitive Surgical Inc.'s patent on its surgical navigation guidance system.

Johnson & Johnson's surgical robotics unit, Auris Health Inc., filed petitions to the PTAB challenging the validity of two Intuitive Surgical patents in June 2019. One petition was granted on Dec. 16, meaning the PTAB will institute an inter partes review of the '601 patent's validity. The inter partes review process was created under a 2011 law and is intended to be a speedier option to challenging patents in the courts.

Auris argued that the '601 patent does not contain novel information on surgical navigation, and thus cannot be patented. According to Auris, some claims in the patent were rendered obvious due to already existing findings.

The PTAB denied a second petition challenging Intuitive Surgical's '056 patent.

The '601 patent specifically covers an endoscope, a medical device that is inserted into the body and used to examine internal organs. The endoscope has an image capturing device and an endoscopic navigation tool to help the physician steer the device during the procedure.