Recovering value from (medical) devices



I attended a session at an interesting seminar on remanufacturing recently, hosted by the Automotive Parts Remanufacturers Association. There were a range of interesting presentations, but one that certainly caught my attention and that of just about everyone else in the room was from Johannes Graf Ballestrem on issues such as trademarks, patents and design rights. It was certainly intriguing to hear for example, that for patent rights to have been considered exhausted, a component (not the part), must have first have been marketed in the European Union (EU). Only then could the market be considered to be saturated and the remanufacturer not be infringing on the patent rights. It goes without saying that proving that the component wasn’t marketed first outside of the EU, is easier said that done. And the burden of proof is with the remanufacturer. The same principles hold in the USA.

The general discussion at the event did get me thinking about an area that I have done some work in, namely medical devices.The full article written by Costanza Viani (a former MSc student), Mentore Vaccari (a colleague at the University of Brescia, in Italy) and myself about an initial comparative scoping study in England and Italy, is available until May 26, 2016, at the link here.

In the medical devices’ world, while there has undoubtedly been some work done, there is more that could be done to recover value, along the value chain from design to the end product. There are several different means via which value could be recovered including through remanufacturing, rebuilding, repair, reworking, or reuse. All of course are different and operate at different points along the scale. For example, a remanufactured part is able to function in a capacity that is at least equivalent to the original part. A core (a used existing part), forms the starting point for the remanufacurered part, and is not waste. However, with repair, there’s likely to be more wastage as there’s no gaurantee that the component will be used again.

Of course in addition to the technical and legal issues, there are public and environmental health, ethical, logistical, supply chain and financial considerations. Therefore, lots of potential opportunities to explore. I would certainly be keen to hear from others would might be interested in putting together a consortium to apply for funding to undertake further research in the area. If you’re interested, drop me an email:

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