Saturday, August 12, 2017

Oh, patents! 23andme

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

23andme, a genetic testing companyco-founded by Anne Wojcicki, Linda Avey and Paul Cusenza, offers state of the art DNA analysis for purposes of ancestry, or combination health and ancestry. Just return the 23andme kit with sample saliva, and 6 to 8 weeks later, much information will be waiting for you in your account at 23andme.

The number 23 in the company name refers to the 23 pairs of chromosomes that make up each human cell, and which carry all the genetic information specific to each individual.
The technology used to perform the genetic analyses is patented. The following is an impressive list of some of the 23andme patented inventions.

US8187811B - 2012-05-29 - Polymorphisms associated with Parkinson's disease
US8428886 - 2013 – 04- 23 - Genotype calling
US8463554B2 - 2013-06-11 - Finding relatives in a database
WO2010024894A1 - 2010-03-04 - Processing data from genotyping chips
US8510057B1- 2013-08-13 - Summarizing an aggregate contribution to a characteristic for an individual
US8543339B2 - 2013-09-24 - Gamete donor selection based on genetic calculations
US8589437B1 - 2013-11-19 - De-identification and sharing of genetic data 
US8645343 - 2014 – 04- 4 - Processing data from genotyping chips
US9213944B1 - 2015-12-15 - Trio-based phasing using a dynamic Bayesian 
US8990250B1 - 2015-03-24 - Cohort selection with privacy protection
US9213947B1 - 2015-12-15 - Scalable pipeline for local ancestry inferenceS8463554B2
US9116882 – 2015 -08 - 25 - Identification of matrilineal or patrilineal relatives
US9213947 – 2015 – 12 - 15 - Scalable pipeline for local ancestry inference
US9218451 – 2015- 12- 5 - Processing data from genotyping chips  
US9336177 – 2016-05-10 - Genome sharing
US9367800 – 2016-06-14 - Ancestry painting with local ancestry inference
US9405818 - 2016 -08-02 - Cohort selection with privacy protection
USD785672 - 2017-05-02 - Display screen or portion thereof with icon 
USD788123 - 2017-05-30 - Display screen or portion thereof with a graphical user interface for conveying genetic information 

And the following is a list of patent applications, pending.
US20170228498 - 2017 -08-10 - Finding relative in a database
US20160277408 - 2016 - 09-22 - Genome sharing
US20160171155 -2016-08-16 - Scalable pipeline for local ancestry inference
US20150227610 - 2015-08-13 - Cohort selection with privacy protection


Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Oh, patents! More Systems

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

Jessica Matthews, the young Nigerian-American, Harvard-educated, star entrepreneur, scientist and venture capitalist, has done it again! 

After Soccket, the Uncharted Play football that harvests kinetic energy transforming it to electricity, and Pulse, the Uncharted Play jump-ropes that do likewise, engaging girls in the production of electricity too, in comes More Systems!

More is an acronym that stands for Motion-based, Off-grid, Renewable, Energy.

More Systems raise the bar on harvesting even more motion-based energy, from multiple power generating and power harvesting sources, and allowing it to be wirelessly distributed, and dynamically allocated to multiple power drawing and requesting devices. More Systems includes, for example. one or more devices that harvest and transform ambient kinetic energy in a variety of locations such as the gym, a playground, a subway turnstile, a road or sidewalk, coupled with a proprietary CPU connected to a wireless network that distributes the collected energy to multiple power drawing and requesting devices such as mobile phones, tablets, computers or watches, appliances, lamps, street or residential lighting. Thus, the More Systems invention might effectively replace a conventional power grid, especially where it is too expensive to implement, or in locations that are too remote.

In sum, More Systems represent another giant step in Matthews’ mission to “democratize energy access worldwide”. As a reminder, the World Bank indicates that 1.06 billion people in the world have no access to electricity, a situation that significantly impacts poverty, and that further defeats many mobile technology initiatives in developing countries.  

More Systems is disclosed in the recently published patent application US2017025857 titled Wireless Mesh Energy Network. The abstract of the More Systems invention is included below.
An energy distribution system is provided with a plurality of energy harvesting devices and a plurality of power draining devices in a wireless mesh energy network. One or more of the energy harvesting devices wirelessly transmits electrical energy to one or more of the power draining devices to power the power draining devices. The energy harvesting devices have harvesting mechanisms that harness and converts kinetic energy of motion, mechanical energy or other forms of energy from other sources into electrical energy. The power draining devices are configured to communicate a signal requesting for power and power data to the energy harvesting devices. The energy harvesting devices utilize the power data to prioritize which power draining devices will wirelessly receive electrical energy. This system would decrease or eliminate the need for attachment to the energy grid.

Jessica Matthews - CEO Uncharted Play
Jessica O. Matthews - Wikipedia
Matthews and Silverman - 2012 Scientists of the Year - Harvard Gazette
Herrmann, F, (Jan 5, 2017) Oh, patents! Energy-generating soccer ball. Blog Patents on the soles of your shoes. 
Herrmann, F. (April 9, 2017) Un ballon de foot pas comme les autres! Blog Billets Techniques TradLex
International Energy Agency
More – Motion-based Off-grid Renewable Energy
Unchartered Play
World Bank - Energy

Monday, July 31, 2017

Oh, patents! Spanx® (1)

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

In 1998, Sara Blakely is purported to have cut off the feet on a pair of pantyhose for a smooth and tight look under a pair of white pants and the freedom to wear open-toe sandals to match. An idea that she then patented, and successfully marketed into a billion-dollar business called Spanx®. Thus, with a single control top, body smoothing and footless pantyhose product, the shapewear industry was re-born, providing women with a whole line of new and comfortable undergarments that support and lift, while offering the desirable aesthetics of “smooth” body contours. A shapewear line that also diversified to such products as bodysuits, slips, high-waisted shorts, camis, tanks and shaping thongs, boyshorts and briefs, while also expanding to include specific undergarments for Mamas during pregnancy, and more recently undergarrments  for men,

Add crimson packaging for the fine line of super comfortable body shaping products with cartoon characters featuring Sara Blakely, in a world of nudes, beige and blush, and the spectacular story of Spanx® also documents itself.

In 2012, the founder and inventor of the original product, Sara Blakely, was named the world’s youngest, self-made female billionaire by Forbes Magazine and one of TIME’s 100 Most Influential people.

The following is a list of the Spanx® US utility and design patent applications, and granted patents, including a WIPO patent. These patents cover both the Spanx® garments and Spanx® product display systems. Many more Spanx® patent family members have been filed at the European Patent Office, and at the national patent offices of Australia, Canada, Austria, Germany and elsewhere.   
  • US2001035032 (A1) ― 2001-11-01 - Pantyhose under garment
  • US2003196252 (A1) ― 2003-10-23 - Two-ply body-smoothing undergarment  
  • US2016206012 (A1) ― 2016-07-21 - Abdominal-restraint garment and methods of assembling the same
  • USD760471 (S) ― 2016-07-05 - Garment  
  • US9320366 (B1) ― 2016-04-26 - Product storage unit and method of arrangement 
  • US2015342265 (A1) ― 2015-12-03 - Flocked shapewear garments
  • USD741631 (S) ― 2015-10-27 - Display tower 
  • USD733994 (S1) ― 2015-07-14 - Garment
  • US2015255011 (A1) ― 2015-09-10 - Display Fixture 
  • USD724874 (S) ― 2015-03-24 - Multi-faceted display tower 
  • US2014317823 (A1) ― 2014-10-30 - Reversible Compression Garments and Methods of Assembling and Using Same
  • US2014273742 (A1) ― 2014-09-18 - Posterior-Lifting Garment and Methods of Assembling The Same 
  • US2014273741 (A1) ― 2014-09-18 - Abdominal-restraint garment and methods of assembling the same 
  • USD707920 (S) ― 2014-07-01 - Garment 
  • US2008127683 (A1) ― 2008-06-05 - Tubular knit bra
  • US2007199134 (A1) ― 2007-08-30 - Hosiery Garment and Method of Making the Same 
  • WO0176398 (A2) ― 2001-10-18 - A pantyhose undergarment and method for manufacturing 


Saturday, July 29, 2017

Oh, patents! Mary Phelps Jacob’s brassière

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

In the United States, Mary Phelps Jacob’s 1914 patented brassière, US1115674, is usually credited as one of the first bra garments, separate from the corset. Bra lore informs us that it was originally cobbled from handkerchiefs, primarily in response to the dictates of early 20th-century fashion, which included plunging necklines, backless evening gowns, made of sheer and vaporous material.  The new brassière garment was designed “comfortable and cool”, with none of the constricting pressures of corsets or the whale bones that stiffened them, and stuck out under finer and lighter garments.

Indeed, the Phelps Jacob patent states, in regard the purpose of this brassiere invention, that it is:
…to provide a garment which is characterized by exreme simplicity, by freedom from bone so that it may be finished with laces or embroideries, for wear beneath a shear waist, or diapahanous gown, and which when worn is both comfortable and cool, and so efficient that it may be worn even by persons engaged in violent exercises, such as tennis; and which has other advantages that are characteristic for the invention herein set forth, some of which may be summarized by saying that it does not confine the person anywhere, except where it is needed. 
The included figure drawing from the Phelps Jacob patent shows the brassiere with its two trapeze-shaped pieces of cloth (10) sewn together, its straps (16) and ties (15) which are meant to be crossed in the back, and tied in the front.

The Phelps Jacob brassiere patent was assigned to the Warner Bros Corset Company for 1500$ where the commercial success of the brassiere, in the following years, was estimated at 15 million! (Phelps Family History)

Incidentally, Phelps Jacob is also known as Caresse Crosby (wife of Harry Crosby). Together, the husband and wife team were the editors of the Black Sun Press they founded, in Paris, in the 1920s. The Black Sun Press is known for having exquisitely published the early works of such famous post-World War I Lost Generation expatriate American authors as Ernest Hemingway, Henry Miller, Anais Nin, Kay Boyle, Hart Crane and Robert Duncan, plus more, then-struggling authors, such as  James Joyce, T.S.Eliot, and Ezra Pound.

Black Sun Press
Phelps Family History
Crosby, C. (1968) The Passionate Years (Autobiography) Southern Illinois Press.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Oh, patents! The corset-bra (1898)

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

A corset-bra?...  No wonder women burned their bras in the 1960s!

Actually, the corset-bra was originally a French invention, called the corselet-gorge, which eventually led to the commonly used term soutien-gorge.

The corselet-gorge was quite a versatile invention in 1898! First, it could be worn with or without a corset. Without a corset, the two front sections of the corselet-gorge attached to a back laced portion with elastic side pieces. With a corset, the corselet-gorge attached to the corset, functioning in both cases as a breast "improver", since the front sections of the corselet-gorge (termed gussets) included bent whalebone stiffeners mounted on silk or thule, thus providing augmented breast forms!

Herminie Sardon (widow Cadolle), filed several patents in connection with her invention, and exhibited her corselet-gorge at the 1898 Exposition Universelle in Paris, an event that had prompted construction of the Eiffel Tower. 

A list of the Herminie Sardon (widow Cadolle) patents follows with two patent figure drawings, extracted from the British version of the corselet-gorge patent showing the front and the back corselet gorge:

  • FR279823 - 1898-07-16 - Corselet-gorge [Listing only - Bulletin des Lois de la RF]
  • GB189816955 (A) ― 1899-07-15 - Improvements in or relating to Corsets
  • FR326297 – 1902-05-21 -   Corset perfectionné dit “modern style”
  • FR443731C 1902 -10-01 - Corselet-guimpe

The original lingerie store in Paris, Cadolle, founded by Herminie Cadolle, the inventor of the corselet-gorge still exists 24 rue Chaussée d’Antin (Paris 9). Several additional Cadolle lingerie boutiques also exist around the world, where six generations of Cadolle daughters and daughters-in-law have managed the business of luxury custom lingerie!

Bulletin des lois de la République Française - Brevet 279823 - 16 juillet 1898 - Corselet-gorge - Cadolle (Mme veuve) née Herminie Sardon.
Stanley, A. (1995) Mothers and daughters of invention: Notes for a revised history of technology. Rutgers University Press

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Oh, patents! Thirdlove

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

Thirdlove Shades of Nude
Viral online bra sales…. What’s with MIT and target objects?!

Plenty, in terms of comfort and vibrant style, re-invented technologies, participatory design, high-tech Moms and savvy young female entrepreneurs, who happened to have transited through the MIT MBA program!

Thirdlove is all about a virtual bra-shopping experience! Getting the all time best-fitted bra, without searching, or even trying one on! As a result, the company is the first to offer half sizes and 30% more cup options, in a bid to accommodate all women, rather than just those larger, or smaller than a single standard.

To achieve the hitherto deemed impossible task of a virtual bra fitting, the company developed a body-imaging and sizing app. This invention is recited in the US patent Application US20140270540A1 titled Determining dimension of target object in an image using reference object.

Virtual fitting requires the user stand in front of a mirror and position certain virtual scanning guides relative to the target objects at a specified distance. The app then calculates several measurements including both the front, and side, overbust and underbust, relative to an apex and the distance between the two. The app also adjusts and estimates contours.

In terms of privacy, Thridlove only uses the calculated measurements for delivering a perfectly fitted bra. The data might be aggregated for various research purposes, in which case client IDs would be deleted. However, the scans used for measurements are performed natively, on each user’s mobile device, and are never forwarded to the company. 

The included abstract of this invention is short and sweet. Figure 17 of 41 figure drawings in the patent application shows one of the interfaces of the app for determining the size of targeted objects. Figure 18 shows the measurements taken. 
Systems and methods for determining one or more dimensions of an object using a digital image are described [Abstract US20140270540A1]
Interestingly, the scope of this invention fully extends to the customization of clothing for both men and women, since the imaging invention may ultimately be used to size varying targets or body parts. 

To date, however, the bottom line is $68 for a customized virtual bra fitting without leaving the comforts of your own home, a patented bra that is so comfortable you will forget you are wearing one, and a 30-day trial period for a 100% perfect fit, guaranteed!

Welch, L. (Nov 2016) How an MIT Grad Made a $68 Bra So Perfect, You'll Forget You're Wearing It. Magazine