NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Smile Direct Club announced it has been issued a patent for its Smile Shop intellectual property from the United States Patent & Trademark Office (”USPTO”). The patent, U.S. Patent No. 10,636,522, further strengthens the telehealth dentistry pioneer’s efforts to bring affordable, accessible oral care to more people through its unique and innovative teledentistry platform and direct-to-consumer business model. The patent ensures no clear aligner competitor will be able to duplicate Smile Direct Club’s unique model for 18 years.
“This patent designation is a significant validation of our unique customer-oriented care model, and expands our category ownership, including the manufacturing and retail experience,” said David Katzman, CEO of Smile Direct Club. “SmileDirectClub is continually seeking to improve the affordability and accessibility of oral care for consumers. As the industry pioneer and inventor of the Smile Shop concept, this patent is recognition that SmileDirectClub offers an innovative way for consumers to access oral care that is safe, doctor-directed and convenient. We look forward to welcoming customers back to our Smile Shops at the earliest and safest possible time.”
The patent encompasses the unique Smile Shop concept and process, including scheduling of an appointment at a SmileShop, sending the scheduling confirmation to the customer, conducting the intraoral scan, generating a treatment plan, receiving approval of the treatment plan by a licensed dentist or orthodontist, producing aligners in accordance with the treatment plan, and sending those aligners to the customer. Smile Direct Club’s clear aligner therapy platform has helped more than 1,000,000 customers achieve a straighter and brighter smile.
Katzman continued: “We are focused on the entire teeth straightening and care process, and we now own the manufacturing of our clear aligner products, the customer experience via our teledentistry platform, as well as the retail experience for clear aligner therapy. This patent is another step in our process as we continue to grow and protect our business.”
The timing of this announcement coincides with the company working to safely reopen its more than 300 SmileShop retail locations, including at CVS Pharmacy.
The company announced it is making plans to slowly reopen its Smile Shops beginning in May in the U.S., Canada, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, the UK and Ireland as local governments begin to lift business restrictions. After its shops temporarily closed in March, Smile Direct Club, one of North America’s largest 3D printing manufacturers, dedicated some of its capacity to producing 3D printed personal protective equipment (PPE) to help in the fight against COVID-19. The company has shipped more than 40,000 face shields to medical organizations, elder care facilities, dentists and orthodontists during this time, and will supply all of its SmileShop team members with face shields and other PPE along with staggered appointment times, temperature scans and other social distancing measures to ensure a safe, sanitary experience upon reopening.