Five years ago, we reported that the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) had awarded CapeRay a key patent to protect our novel dual-modality imaging technology. Earlier this week, the USPTO awarded the company another patent (US11,304,672) for an imaging system housing that extends our protection for integrating mammography and ultrasound. Kit Vaughan, CEO of CapeRay, said: “We acknowledge the contribution of our patent attorneys Érik van der Vyver and Stephen Middleton at Von Seidels who were able to persuade the USPTO examiner that the claims for our invention were both novel and non-obvious.”
This was the first patent for James Long who provided his own insight: “When struggling with a design challenge, you do not stop to think of the patentability of the solution. The relief of moving forward with the design is enough. But now, looking back, I am very pleased and grateful to CapeRay for their support in developing and patenting this solution to one of the company’s recurring technical challenges.” The key challenge that Long and his co-inventors solved was how to attach a breast platform made from a low surface energy plastic called TPX to a carbon-fibre enclosure.
Seen at left and below right are two figures from the patent that illustrate separate embodiments of the invention: Aceso, which combines full-field digital mammography (FFDM) with automated breast ultrasound (ABUS); and Epione, which enables an ABUS system to be added to an existing FFDM or digital breast tomosynthesis (DBT) platform. While the figures aid in understanding, it is the claims that are of primary importance because they define the scope of the protection conferred by the patent.
Van der Vyver commented: “This patent is a valuable addition to CapeRay’s patent portfolio. The technology may be utilised in conjunction with some of the company’s exisiting patented inventions, and also as a stand-alone invention in this field. The technology represents both an advancement in the field of imaging system housing, as well as the manufacture of dual-modality imaging platforms, and as such represents an important addition to the field.”
It is well recognised that securing patents can be an expensive undertaking, especially if a company wants protection in multiple countries. South Africa’s Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (DTIC) has a generous incentive scheme in which they provide matching funding for claims of up to $15,000 per annum for international patents. CapeRay has benefitted from this scheme in the past and will do so in the future, given the important role that intellectual property plays in the competitive field of medical imaging.