Medtronic’s R&D Policies Questioned

November 22, 2010 – 12:23 pm

Last week, in our Qmed Daily Europe newsletter, we included a story on Medtronic’s recent launch of a European Web portal, which, the press release explains, is intended to “help physicians and medical technology inventors to bring their innovative ideas to life.”

The article prompted a reader to send us an e-mail with “Shame on Medtronic” as the subject line. In the body of the message, the reader writes: “[Medtronic] spun the story to make it look like they were being a resource to doctors and innovative folks with ideas. If you look at Medtronic’s questionable past in stealing other company’s technologies, bringing them to market, and staying them in the courts until newer technology arises or they find their way around the IP; this is nothing more than a thievery incubator so that Medtronic can merely ‘fish from the barrel’ and pick and choose what they want.”

The reader also points out that engineers at medical device companies would not use this service. The e-mail goes on to suggest that people with innovative medical device ideas would be better off pursuing a path of entrepreneurship, which would enable them to either create a new company or add value to an existing one, assuming the idea was sufficiently innovative and useful.

To be fair, the Medtronic EUreka website in no way compels people to submit their ideas. It simply provides a new option for them to do so. The Website advises those interested in submitting ideas to consult a patent attorney for their advice before sending the idea to the portal. Those who follow that advice should have some idea of what to reasonably expect by submitting their ideas, assuming the patent attorney is competent.

On a related front, our sister blog Device Talk recently included a blog post on Medtronic’s internal R&D efforts. The posts acknowledged that it was generally believed that Medtronic was more interested “in acquiring technology than developing it internally” but went on to argue that the company was serious about developing technology as it spends US $100 million on internal R&D ventures. (The company has been reported elsewhere as spending US$1 billion on all of its R&D projects.)

A reader responded to that by stating that Medtronic wasn’t serious about developing internal R&D, since the company “never had the stomach for the venture life.” The reader concludes the comment with the statement that “Medtronic only acquires technology.”

In any case, we invite you to share your thoughts on this topic by submitting comments below (registration is not required).

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  1. 3 Responses to “Medtronic’s R&D Policies Questioned”

  2. Interesting

    By Arik on Nov 23, 2010

  3. I visited the Medtronic EUreka site with great interest, and was very disappointed when I looked at the conditions. I see that Medtronic got all the benefits, all the options and all the protection, while the other side got no protection at all. I could only admire whoever dreamt of such harsh conditions. I may be wrong, but I don’t think anyone with smart enough ideas would use that channel. Medtronics is probably wasting their time and money on that.

    By Chan on Nov 23, 2010

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