Another update on my long-running series of posts following the NHL’s newest hockey team, the Las Vegas Golden Knights, and their embattled trademark applications for VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS that were filed nearly two years ago.

Most recently I posted about a challenge to the trademark applications by the U.S. Army, who opposed registration of the VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS marks in connection with professional ice hockey exhibitions. The Army alleged likelihood of confusion, among other claims, based primarily on the Army’s prior use of a GOLDEN KNIGHTS mark in connection with the Army’s parachute demonstration team.

The hockey team announced last week that they had settled the dispute by executing a co-existence agreement, in which the Army agreed to withdraw the opposition proceeding and allow the hockey team to register the VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS marks, while the hockey team agreed the Army would continue using the Golden Knights name for its parachute team.

This type of settlement involving a co-existence agreement is quite common in opposition proceedings. It is also not surprising for a couple other reasons. As discussed in my last post, the Army would have had a difficult time establishing the necessary “relatedness” factor for its likelihood-of-confusion claim. Although both parties technically are offering types of “entertainment” services, it would have been difficult to show that professional ice hockey exhibitions and parachute demonstrations are sufficiently related to cause likely confusion.

Furthermore, the financial support for the Army by Bill Foley (the owner of the hockey team) may have been a factor that encouraged an amicable settlement. Foley is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, and is the biggest donor to its athletic program. Due to his $15 million donation, Foley’s name is on West Point’s athletic center.

Now that the Army has withdrawn its opposition, the VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS marks will likely register in the next couple months. This was a difficult road to registration in light of the various Office Actions and other challenges discussed in previous posts. But it was well worth the effort, in light of the high value of the team’s brand, especially due to the team’s quick competitive success and business growth. The Golden Knights made it to the Stanley Cup in their first season, and the team sold more merchandise last year than any other other NHL team.

– Derek Mathers, Business Development Manager, Worrell

You won’t hear about the FDA workshop that happened at their Maryland HQ three weeks ago on the news, but it (and workshops like it) will significantly affect the way that you receive medical treatment in the future. I attended this workshop to get the inside scoop on the way that 3D printing will affect medical technology, because as a product development consultant it is essential that I understand how manufacturing will be transformed over the coming years. If I could sum up these two days in one sentence, I would recommend that you start getting excited for a future of better, faster, and more personalized medicine.

Radical innovations will start in academia, diffuse to industry

Every major player in both the medical and 3D printing industry was in attendance in order to help formulate future FDA guidance for this new manufacturing technology. In addition to government, military, and private industry representation, universities from across the nation sent their best and brightest to explain what schools are doing to improve the technology. Here are two incredible examples:

• University of Michigan, Dr. Scott Hollister showed how they are saving infant lives by printing a bioresorbable splint to support a collapsed bronchitis.

• Wake Forest School of Regenerative Medicine, in collaboration with the U.S. Army, is now testing a skin printer in the field to repair soldiers’ burn wounds in a fraction of the time

You might have heard of a San Diego-based bioprinting company called Organovo (ONVO) that manufactures human tissues for pharmaceutical testing. In my conversation with Keith Murphy last week, their CEO, I discovered that they are actually working closely with Wake Forest Regenerative Medicine – Organovo designs the hardware or platform for bioprinting, and Wake Forest provides the research funding and scientific testing resources to maximize the application. From my discussions with these two organizations and the FDA, I believe this will be the model moving forward – research and development in academia, and scale/efficiency/quality developed in industry.

Metal printing is already revolutionizing surgery and improving care

Many people are familiar with the way that 3D printing is being used in hospitals to print anatomical models from MRI/CT scans so that surgeons can practice and hold a perfect replica of the surgery site in their hand. Two companies – 3D Systems, Materialise, and Oxford Performance Materials – are now taking this to another level. By printing titanium surgical guides, these companies are planning surgeries and designing custom-fit guides so the procedures are becoming exponentially more successful. Now, with FDA-certified materials, OPM prints custom titanium implantable structures in order to solve complex orthopedic problems.

The FDA is most worried about controls

Who will be actually hitting “print” on the 3D printers for surgical planning, implantable structures, and in the future organs? This was the FDA’s biggest concern from a control and liability standpoint – is the printing manufacturer to be held liable or the engineers/clinicians who are at the hospital designing the part? These issues will be answered by future guidance coming out from the FDA, but it seems that the FDA will regulate 3D printing the same way it does traditional manufacturing processes – examining materials, human factors, and technology on a case-by-case process to verify safety and efficacy. This is the future, and the FDA knows that being an innovator with this technology is not just a matter of improving healthcare, but a matter of national security.