Patent suit against Nobel

Patent Suit Against Nobel Biocare

G Fried Van crean CEO of Materialise

Dental solutions provider Materialise sues multinational for unauthorized copying of a method for successful implant dentistry.

Read the full story as told by Materialise CEO Wilfried Vancraen

Dusseldorf (Germany) / Leuven (Belgium), July 10, 2006. The Swedish medical technology enterprise Nobel Biocare (Gšteborg / Sweden) is alleged to use a method for making so called dental drill guides. These dental drill guides are acknowledged as a very promising improvement for implant treatment.Materialise has therefore filed a patent infringement action at the DŸsseldorf district court (Germany). Nobel Biocare is sued for infringement of the method which is protected by Claim 1 of European Patent (EP) 0 756 735 granted to the company Materialise (Leuven).

Materialise points out that it launched its dental drill guide system back in 1999 under the name of SurgiGuide, while Nobel Biocare did not introduce its NobelGuide system until 2005.


Dental drill guides transfer the surgical implant planning to the actual surgery. The principal allegation refers to a method for making medical models, including guides for dental surgery, that involves the use of grey value images and rapid prototyping. “We would prefer not to resort to litigation, but we must protect our intellectual property and patented technology, wherever it is infringed,” stated Materialise CEO Wilfried Vancraen. “Our solution was the result of years of development work and a basis for further developments, continuously providing cutting-edge technology that contributes to the success of implant dentistry.”

The Materialise' patent refers to the priority date of April 19, 1994, and since then has gathered considerable clinical experience with it. According to the company, further research has yielded groundbreaking results leading to the 1999 introduction of the first (bone-supported) version of SurgiGuide. It was followed in 2001 by a SurgiGuide version for zygomatic implants, in 2002 by a mucosa-supported SurgiGuide, and in 2003 by a tooth-supported SurgiGuide version.

Materialise asserts that Nobel Biocare as well as diverse dental experts and opinion leaders in the industry were very well aware of the development of the SurgiGuide drill guides, which were presented at open conferences for clinicians. When Nobel Biocare, the Swedish market leader, unveiled its NobelGuide system to a large public in 2005, Materialise resolved to take legal action.


“Customers,” says Vancraen, “have been shocked about the launch of the NobelGuide system and the Procera software from Nobel Biocare without the involvement or the acknowledgement of the rights of Materialise.”

He adds that “our customers need to know they can rely on Materialise. Our products are based on extensive research and supported by a large R&D team.” Materialise is represented in the action against Nobel Biocare by the international law firm Bird & Bird.

About Materialise and the SimPlant Platform, inclusive SurgiGuide Materialise NV, headquartered in Leuven, Belgium and with a world wide network of offices, started up as a spin-off from the University of Leuven. In 1990 it began serving the rapid prototyping market for industrial and medical applications. The company subsequently added simulation software for medical and dental applications to its portfolio. With the advent of and continued evolution of the SimPlant platform, one of the most recognized names in computer guided surgery, Materialise offered clinicians worldwide an open and complete platform for dental implantology and three-dimensional treatment planning. The SimPlant platform offers well-documented solutions that work with any implant brand and contribute to increased accuracy, improved esthetics, minimal invasive surgery, Immediate SmileTM, etc.

The SimPlant Platform is now utilized by over 4000 clinicians and collaborates with a global network of scan sites. Its applications include a variety of surgical guides, including bone-supported guides and guides for maxillofacial surgery. A worldwide support channel and a “SimPlant Academy” have been established; SimPlant is also available in six different languages. Materialise is one of the independent market leaders in dental implantology simulation software and one of the worldwide leaders in medical modeling technology. Materialise provides surgeons with the most detailed and precise virtual 3D models available.

Clinicians around the world use medical models and templates created by Materialise software to assist them in the most complex surgical cases.

Materialise is a trusted partner worldwide for the largest hospitals and research institutions.

August 2007: Nobel Biocare is condamned.

Dusseldorf, Germany / Leuven, Belgium, 14th August 2007.

The District Court of Dusseldorf ruled on 14th August 2007 that Nobel Biocare is infringing a Materialise patent, by unauthorized using a method for producing guides for dental implant surgery.

Nobel Biocare Ordered by Court to Stop Offering NobelGuide Drilling Templates in Germany.

The decision could be appealed.

All details

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