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Intuitive Surgical, Inc.: How Long Can Their Monopoly Last? Dr. Alan N. Hoffman Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University and Bentley University This teaching case was prepared with the support from Rotterdam School of Management Case Development Centre. We wish to thank Scott Coligan, Melanie Dunn, Amanda Genesky, Joe Lopatosky, and Dan Ryan for their research. This case is based on field research data published sources. It is to provide material for class discussion rather than to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation. The author has disguised identifying information to protect confidentiality. Copyright © 2012 Rotterdam School of Management Case Development Centre, Erasmus University. No part of this publication may be copied, stored, transmitted, reproduced or distributed in any form or medium whatsoever without the permission of the copyright owner. Please address all correspondence to [email protected] CASE DEVELOPMENT CENTRE ecch 310-106-1 Distributed by The Case Centre North America Rest of the world www.thecasecentre.org t +1 781 239 5884 t +44 (0)1234 750903 All rights reserved f +1 781 239 5885 f +44 (0)1234 751125 e [email protected] e [email protected] case centre Usage permitted only within these parameters. Purchase order no #584212, The Case Centre order ref F277607. Purchased for use on the MBA 6006, taught by Steve Manderscheid (Capella University) & Mary Whitman (Capella University), from 10-Oct-2016 to 18-Nov-2016. Educational material supplied by The Case Centre Copyright encoded A76HM-JUJ9K-PJMN9I Order reference F277607
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2 Synopsis The da Vinci Surgical System, which performs urologic, gynecologic, cardiothoracic, and general operations less invasively and more effectively than traditional procedures, is the flagship product of Intuitive Surgical, a US-based global technology leader in robotic surgery. As a prime mover of this technology, Intuitive Surgical enjoys the biggest market share and the benefit of establishing its brand before competitors entered the market. Over the years it has built barriers to new entry, including superior product offerings, intellectual property protection, multiple regulatory clearances, a large installation base, worldwide training centers, strong customer relationships, and an excellent balance sheet. Though Intuitive Surgical has no serious competitors today, it does have concerns and challenges. One major concern is the displacement of surgeons and nurses at client facilities. Another is product safety – one slight error in calibration can result in fatalities detrimental to the company’s image as well as in legal battles. The expiration of the company’s existing patents in 2016 poses a serious challenge. Once these patents expire, competitors can utilize those technologies in the marketplace, and Intuitive Surgical’s competitive advantage will be lost.
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