Dr. Clifford M. Terry, a Fullerton ophthalmologist, said Japan has just granted him a patent for which he applied 11 years ago and which will significantly expand in that country the marketing of a surgical device he invented.
The Terry Keratometer is a computer calculator attachment to a surgical microscope that enables surgeons to adjust the focus of a patient’s eye during cataract surgery so the patient later will not have to wear glasses to see at a distance.
Terry said that since he developed the device in 1978, he has sold about 720 worldwide, including 600 in the United States. He said the Terry Keratometer is patented in the United States, Great Britain, Australia, Canada and France.
But Terry said it is very difficult for an American inventor to obtain a Japanese patent. “I was very surprised and quite pleased that it was finally granted,” he said.
Terry said that four years ago, the Terry Keratometer was approved for marketing in Japan by Japan’s counterpart to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. But he said that since then only 15 of the devices have been sold in Japan by Alcon Pharmaceuticals, a U.S. company.
Until a Japanese patent could be obtained on his product, Terry said, Japanese pharmaceutical companies were reluctant to enter into agreements to distribute the device for fear that it would be copied by Japanese manufacturers. Japanese companies could sell similar devices at a lower price, he said, because they would not have to pay a 40% import tax that Japan imposes on medical products shipped from the United States.