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Inventors and commercialization partners often rely on patents to facilitate the exchange of sensitive information. Most scholarship in this area has focused on the areas of software and biotechnology. To provide a richer description of the role of patents in the innovative process, this project evaluates the existing literature and sets forth examples drawn from a series of interviews with professionals from the largely-overlooked medical device industry. The limited analysis of the medical device industry has focused on the largest few dozen firms—as publicly-traded entities, a great deal of data about them is readily available. Small medical device companies are typically privately held, so information about them is more difficult to obtain. The description and analysis set forth in this Article begins to fill that gap. I found that emerging medical device companies often depend on patent protection to help foster communication with investors and negotiate the alliances necessary to develop their inventions. Understanding the role of patents in the medical device industry can serve as a barometer of how well the patent system in general is functioning in accordance with its historic purpose of promoting progress.