Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Oh, patents! New Year’s ball drop

 Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

The countdown has started on some of the meridians to the right of Greenwich Mean Time! Not long 'till celebrations start ushering in the year 2014!
And perhaps that you will be in Times Square, in NYC, a little later to see the New Year’s ball drop! But before you bundle up and go, you might take a quick peek at the New Year’s Ball Drop patent!

The New Year’s ball drop patent, US2005138851, is an invention classified as a celebratory illuminating device. It is preceded by the disco light ball [US4389598], the synchronized confetti sprayer and descending illuminated ball [US 6260989] and the laser light show with holographic image projection [US5090789, although none of the prior art is specifically suited for the purposes of celebrating the New Year.  

There are many aspects to New Year's ball drop invention: the ball drop on a vertical post with an illuminated sign announcing the new year; the tracking mechanism to guide the movement of the ball; the configuration of the lamps required to light up the sign announcing the new year; the ball lights and the timing mechanism for the ball lights; the timing mechanism for the new year flashing lights once the ball has completed its descent, and its connection to real time in view of precisely synchronizing the descent  of the ball with the real time countdown for the new year.

The Abstract for the New Year's Ball drop patent US2005138851 summarizes the invention as follows:
The present invention 10 discloses a New Year's celebrating device having a vertically standing support pole 16 having tracks 18 thereon upon which a movable ball 12 is slidably mounted. The ball 12 also has lights 14 there on. A New Year display sign 20 having lights 22 thereon. In operation, at a predetermined time, the ball 12 begins its descent from atop the pole 16. When the ball 12 reaches its destination at the bottom of the pole 16, the New Year display lights 22 light up and the ball lights 14 flash.
Hurry now, as otherwise you will have to wait another 365 days to celebrate the New Year 's ball drop, synchronistically, in patent style! Happy 2014!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Dr. Scholl's contoured sandals "revisited"

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann
These two pairs of Dr. Scholl’s original exercise sandals made of wood with contoured soles (according to the specifications of US Patent 412494) were revamped by Packkitsch, in Seattle, Wa., to the tune of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet (below) and fun sea world for little girls (to the right).. '

If you love’m, here’s the link….!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Oh, patents! Dr. Scholl’s® foot comfort

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

Dr. Scholl’s foot comfort and footwear products were first manufactured at the turn of the 20th century in Chicago, Il.,, in 1906, by a podiatrist named William Mathias Scholl. Among the originally patented products there were various cushion insoles, ball of foot cushions, anti-corn pads, compression stockings, the “foot-eazer” (an arch support), and orthopedic shoes. The company was an international success as early as 1915 when a retail store was opened in London (UK).  

 To date the company produces lines of foot comfort products and footwear that respond to specific foot problems such as arch pain, corns, callouses and bunions, blisters, heel or ball of foot pain; or specific  lower back problems such as arthritis, as well as specific skin problems such as Athlete’s foot, foot odor or nail fungus.

The company’s very popular mid 1970s wooden “exercise” sandals which purportedly tone calf muscles, with a contoured sole that espouses foot anatomy and a colored leather strap, propelled Dr. Scholl’s footwear into the fashion world.

Today the company headquarters are located in London (UK), and it is owned by Merck & Co in the US, which markets all the Dr. Scholl’s® foot comfort and footwear products under the original brand name.

 Among the thousands of patents granted and assigned to  Scholl Inc. in Chicago, you will find below the abstract of patent US 4124946, granted for a Built-in insole and article of footwear containing same which discloses the Dr. Scholl’s® classic and well known contoured insole, where contoured is defined as: 

“ in keeping with the plantar surface of a human foot and in a manner to support the foot in an anatomically correct position while lending a cushioning effect on the sole of the foot as well as being absorbent to perspiration”.

 You will also find one of the patent drawings of the insole, and below a picture of a marketed Dr. Scholl’s® original contoured “exercise” wooden sandal with the colored strap. 

 Abstract US4124946

This invention relates to a supporting insole built into a shoe or other article of footwear, and to the article of footwear containing said insole, the insole being shaped to conform to the plantar surface of a human foot and seated in a recess in the outsole to which the insole and upper are attached.
Hmmmm, this is patented chocolate for your feet!...

Friday, December 27, 2013

Oh, patents! Nike Shox

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

Your Nike footwear is choc' full patents! Take Nike Shox, the revolutionary running footwear, turned sportswear shoe, with a strange looking heel made of rigid plastic columns. That heal embodies some sophisticated technology  including the columns designed to reduce shock from the ground, and a cantilevered heel plate acting as a flexible spring to further absorb the energy imparted to the heel area. The materials for the heel columns are also patented sorts of plastic.

Below appears the Abstract of patent US2011239490 entitled:Article of footwear with shock absorbing heel, awarded to several inventors from Nike in Oregon, with a patent drawing, and pictures of the latest iteration of Nike Shox for both men and women.  

Astract US2011239490
An article of footwear with a shock absorbing heel system is disclosed. The heel system includes a lower heel plate, a set of support members, and an upper heel plate. Also, the heel system includes a heel cover configured to hide the upper heel plate from view. The lower heel plate is associated with a cantilever portion that supports the upper heel plate laterally. As force is applied to the heel system, the support members may compress slightly and the cantilever portion may lower,absorbing energy and or shocks applied by the ground.
 alt alt
 If you like this footwear, you can customize it to your taste and specifications using Nike ID online.
Nike ID is design software available at Nike.com, although you will find out that software does not get patented as easily as the soles  and heels of your running shoes!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Shoes: chocolate for your feet – By Cathy Guisewite

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann
Do you read the Sunday paper comic strips? If yes, then for sure that you have read Cathy®, a syndicated comic strip by Cathy Guisewite. During its heyday, the strip ran in more than 1400 papers, and it ran a total of 34 years, until 2010, when the author retired. Cathy® is all about coping, from a female perspective! One collection of her strips entitled: The four guilt groups covers Cathy’s four main coping domains: Food, Work, Love and Mom!

But for all shoe patent lovers, the one Cathy® comic strip collection that matters is called:  Shoes: chocolate for your feet! In it you will find a few gems about shopping, and in particular.. for shoes .. For example, here is what Cathy says after caving in to several pairs of shoes, one for each of several occasions: “Some people work to support their children, I work to support my feet”…. The cost of shoes is hardly a deterrent for buying yet another pair of shoes because “Shoes are chocolate for your feet!” And if you have to meet your ex-boyfriend’s new girlfriend then consider Cathy’s advice after buying a $200 pair of shoes: “Men look at the competition in the eye. Women look at the competition in the foot”!... Undecided about what to buy? Consider the advice that Cathy’s Mom provides when she suggests that Cathy buy it all, and return the rejects, and how Cathy sums it all up: “Born to shop. Bred to return.”…
What’s more contagious than the flu? “Black boot disease” according to Cathy’s co-worker, who just bought a fabulous pair of black boots for $300..., the looks and feel of which immediately sent Cathy out the door to do likewise…!
So, for a break that tastes sweet, and warms your heart – without the calories..  Try: Shoes: Chocolate for feet! You will smile and love the guiltless pleasure.


Guisewite, C. (2000) Shoes: Chocolate for the feet. A Cathy® Collection by Cathy Guisewite. Kansas City, Missouri: Andrews McMeel Publishing. 

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Oh, patents! Santa Claus detector

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

Question: What does a patent translator give to another patent translator for xmas?
Answer: Reference to a Santa Claus detector patent!
Indeed, the Santa Claus detector patent, US5523741, was awarded on Jun 4, 1996 to Thomas Cane, a resident of San Raphael in California! And I suppose that every household should have such a device surreptitiously hidden inside a decorative stocking, hanging on the chimney, so that Santa does not trigger any other burglar alarms in the house! At the end of the day, Santa is a most welcome guest…. Even if he has to climb in through the chimney in the middle of the night, to make sure that no-one sees him delivering gifts!

The rational invoked for this invention is somewhat different, as the Santa Claus detector, disclosed in US 5523741, is designed to light up, signaling Santa’s imminent arrival or visit, in order to provide reassurance to children that indeed they have been good enough to receive presents!..

Thus, the disclosed Santa Claus detector includes a switch, a power source, as well as a light source, all of which are concealed, preferably within a decorative stocking. And, there is also a strategically positioned pull cord  (40) across the opening of the chimney designed to actuate the lights, which Santa would presumably actuate as he is climbing into the living room via the chimney.

I suppose that everyone could use a Santa Claus detector, at least for as long as there is someone in the house to believe it!

 Below, you will find the abstract and one of the drawings of this patented invention. 

Abstract US5523741

A children’s Christmas Stocking device useful for visually signaling the arrival of Santa Claus by illuminating an externally visible light source having a power source located within the device.           


Season greetings to all!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Oh, patents! Adidas Springblade™ shoes

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

For runners, sole cushioning is synonymous of running free of repetitive stress injury. And every running shoe manufacturer has their own patented system for cushioning the soles of their running shoe products, whether it is foam, encapsulated air, shock-absorbers like those of automobiles, or special toe and heel reinforcement pads.
The Adidas shoe designers have invented the Springblade™ to remedy some of the disadvantages of foam cushioning. They point out that the dynamic properties of foam are strongly weather-dependent, that is, foam hardens in cold weather, which is exactly the opposite of the desired cushioning effect. They also point out that foam wears out under repetitive compression and shearing loads, and every runner knows how to check the soles of their running shoes for signs of flattened and wrinkled foam. Finally, they also point out that the manufacture of foam soles cannot readily adapt to the weight of the user, or the shoe size, at reasonable cost, which results in both varying hardness of the soles and varying wear.  
The Springblade™ system, with its spring leaves engineered out of temperature independent and long life material, also adaptable to shoe size and easily manufactured, thus arises both as an alternative to foam and as remedy for its disadvantages.
Below, you will find the abstract of  patent US2011138652, titled Shoe and Sole with one of the patent drawings, and two images of the marketed product, the Adidas SpringBlade™ shoe. The blue shoe is the Men’s version and the Pink one is the Women’s version!...

Abstract US2011138652 - Shoe and Sole 
The present invention relates to shoes, in particular a sports shoe. The shoe includes a sole plate having in a forefoot area a plurality of leaf spring elements, wherein the sole plate and the plurality of leaf spring elements are manufactured as a single piece. Each of the plurality of leaf spring elements has one free end not connected to the sole plate. 
 alt alt

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Oh, patents! Spinning shoes

Copyright © Françoise Herrman
Do you wear Skechers Jazz Hands spinning shoes when you dance? If not, perhaps that you should try!

WIPO Patent WO2012121741 was awarded for an invention titled “Spinning shoes”, and assigned to Skechers. These shoes have a pivot point, that is, a pivoting assembly inserted into the forefoot of the shoe sole. This enables you to spin and twirl vertically on the tips of your toes when you shift your weight to the forefoot of the shoe!
The assembly inside the sole is flush with the outsole, so that it is not visible from the side (as traditional roller skates), and the shoes look like regular casual sports footwear, which you can wear to walk about as usual.
To spin like a ballerina or twirl like a Dervish, you will need to shift your weight to the front of the shoe.
Below is the abstract of the Skechers Spinning shoe and a copy of Figure 1 extracted from the invention cover sheet.
Abstract WO2012121741
A spinning shoe having an upper and sole member in which the sole member has a spinning assembly In the forefoot. The spinning assembly is placed within a recess in the forefoot region of the sole member. Thus, the user may walk about wearing a normal shoe and then by simply placing their weight on the forefoot region, they may spin about on a vertical axis.                        
Now you can pirouette and twirl without the squished and aching toes…!

Oh, patents! Twinkle shoes for kids

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

altMy little neighbors, the three sweetest little girls --8, 6 and 5 years old-- have the coolest twinkle shoes! Their little shoes
light-up when they hop, skip and jump! The lights twinkle in
different colors, and it is very cute to see!
Of course this made me wonder who the manufacturer could
be, and whose invention this was.
The footwear is Skechers and the patent for the twinkle lights

is US2011271558. 

This patent, assigned to Skechers, is also one
among hundreds, since Skechers is a public, billion dollar, global manufacturer of footwear with more than 3000 shoe styles for men, women and children, marketed in more than 120 countries worldwide, via more than 900 stores!

Below is the abstract of patent US2011271558 titled “Lighted panel for an article of

footwear” and one of the drawings.

Abstract US2011271558
A lighted panel in combination with an article of footwear wherein the lighted panel includes a translucent display panel, a foam sheet, at least one primary light diffuser, and a reflective sheet that together act to illuminate and distribute light uniformly throughout, the translucent display panel without any concentrated points of light.


Twinkle, twinkle little shoes, now you too know what they are!...

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Prior art: Including indigenous /traditional knowledge (IK/TK)

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann
Neem tree
Two out three determining criteria of patentability -- novelty and inventive step -- rely on an examination of what is termed prior art. Indeed, an inventor will have to search all prior art sources to make sure that the invention s/he is claiming does not exist elsewhere, in some published form. Similarly, examiners in charge of determining the patentability of an invention recited in a patent application will conduct prior art searches to make sure that the invention is indeed patentable. And finally, any litigation arising in the process of determining patentability, and in regards an infringement procedure, will also rely on prior art because the existence of this art will either deny novelty or demonstrate that the claims are infringing on some already existing form of the invention.  
So far, so good…This is all about prior art in a print tradition; knowledge in a language known to the Western world or for which there are printed records.
But what happens when knowledge has no written record? What happens when knowledge is shared by a community as an ancestral practice, handed down from one generation to the next in initiation and an oral tradition? How do you include this knowledge, and these practices, in the dataset that will serve to determine the patentability of an invention? How do you include this sort of prior art, termed traditional or indigenous knowledge [TK or IK], in the determination of novelty or inventive step of an invention?

Until fairly recently, the answers to these questions were simply ignored, or to put it less sweetly, this sort of prior art was largely illicitly appropriated and plundered, as Vandana Shiva has  pointed out, and extensively described in her work on biopiracy (Shiva, 1997, 2002).

In fact, it took a reversal of the decisions to grant two patents to set precedence: one reversal in 1997 of a decision the USPTO had previously taken to grant US 5401504; and another reversal in 2000 of a decision the EPO had previously taken to award EP436257.Thus, in recognizing the existence of traditional or indigenous knowledge as evidence of prior art, both revocations consequently laid the groundwork for a more equitable and fair evaluation of patentability. The first patent, EP436257, had been awarded for the use of Neem Tree oil (Azadirachta indica), as a pesticide, and it was revoked when traditional Indian knowledge was provided as evidence of prior art, existing for thousands of years in India. The second patent, US5401504had been awarded for the healing properties of turmeric (Curcuma longaa spice and plant used for healing since the dawn of time in India, and it was revoked when such prior knowledge was brought before the EPO as evidence of prior art. 

Add to the USPTO and EPO decisions to reverse patents they had previously awarded, passage of the TRIPS (Trade-related aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) agreement a few years earlier, in 1994, and you will begin to find answers to the questions posed previously in regard patentability, and the miss-appropriation of indigenous resources, including knowledge, practices, technologies and commodities.

You will find answers appearing as organized dissent in the 600-year, extraordinarily consensual, history of the patenting system; answers arising as the full-scale resistance of third world countries to certain provisions of the TRIPS agreement which incorporates patenting rights in the context of world trade and thus seeks to extend patenting rights on a global level. Answers in the form of new international conventions such as the 1992 UN Convention of biological diversityset forth to guarantee and protect biological diversity, to promote sustainable practices and fair and equitable sharing of benefits, And, as part of this new, more genuine and more inclusive international dialogue, the clever compilation and recording of indigenous knowledge and practices in the form of databases and registries, under the auspices of such global international institutions as the UNESCO, the World Bank and WIPO (World Intellectual Property Office - the UN patent office).

Interestingly enough, the Indian TKDL – Traditional Knowledge Digital Library, initiated in 2001, within the previously mentioned context of dissent, under the auspices of the Indian government and several large public health institutions of India, has not only sought to record ancient knowledge, including 1200 Ayurvedic medicinal formulations, it has also digitized and translated this traditional knowledge into French, English, Japanese, German and Spanish. And, most importantly, the TKDL has devised a Traditional Knowledge Resource Classification (TKRC) system based on the 25,000 subgroups of the International Patent Classification System (IPC) to index all of the traditional knowledge recorded. Thus, the TDKL makes it easy to search IndianTK/IK, and indeed has signed agreements with the USPTO and other patenting Offices, allowing prior art searches to crawl into the TDKL.  

Conversely, the existence and development of the TKDL has also commissioned task forces for the re-examination of previously granted patents. Using TK as evidence of prior art, the task forces endeavor to further determine the validity of previously awarded patents, considering the sort of precedence afforded when the USPTO and EPO reversed their decisions to award turmeric and Neem tree patents.

Finally, to the extent that the new TK classification system incorporates the existing International Classification (IPC) system, the new TK system has also contributed to the expansion of the IPC system with the incorporation of 207 new and additional sub-categories for medicinal plants.
Thus, in the mighty scheme of the patenting system, the TKDL indeed appears as an exemplary manner of inclusion -- on more counts than one! ”.
So... consider this “making it right” -- much like former President Clinton speaks of building better”!
 Below, you will find listed a few links to available databases of Indigenous knowledge (IK), Traditional Knowledge (TK)  and Best practices of Indigenous/Traditional knowledge, under the auspices of The World Bank, UNESCO, WIPO, and in India at the TKDL – Traditional Knowledge Digital Library, under the auspices oftheIndian Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR], the Department of Ayurveda, Yoga, Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy (AYUSH), the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare and the Government of India.

 The World Bank - Database of Indigenous Knowledge  - Sub-Saharan Africa  http://www.worldbank.org/afr/ik/datab.htm

UNESCO – Register of Best practices on Indigenous/Traditional Knowledge  http://www.unesco.org/most/bpikreg.htm

WIPO – World Intellectual Property Organization – Traditional Knowledge  http://www.wipo.int/tk/en/tk/

India – TKDL – Traditional Knowledge Digital Library    http://www.tkdl.res.in/tkdl/langdefault/common/

Shiva, V. (1997) Biopiracy: The plunder of nature and knowledge.   Cambridge, MA: South End Press.
Shiva, V. (2002)Protect or plunder: Understanding intellectual property rights (global issues).London, UK: Zed Books.
Monfils, L.(2008)  Flower of the curcuma longa. Photograph at Wikimedia Commons:http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Curcuma_longa.jpg
Neem Tree – Courtesy of Google images
 Turmeric (Curcuma longa)

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Animal patents, huh? Humanized transgenic mouse model

Copyright © Françoise HerrrmannCarey Joliff

-        You, my friend, are crossing the boundaries of your field…No one is going to believe you….!

-        Ok, no one is obligated to believe me… But, when you do find someone that you believe, then everything will sound familiar; and you, dear friend, will remember what I’m telling you….!

Hush now… and back to transgenic mice, those rodents with knocked out (KO) or knocked in (KI) genes that are perceived as the greatest and most promising avenue of research, for testing drug targets, in-vivo.

Here are a few more of these patented creatures –three genotypes just don’t seem to build a big enough case for the existence of a transgenic rodent market and breeding industry.Besides, according to WHO, there are 6000 known rare diseases (with a prevalence of less than 200,000) and more than 12,000 diseases known to plague humans, which means plenty of drug targets to test for generations to come. And incidentally, these batches of mice are “humanized”… so sorry, if your heart is sinking anew… this is another interesting aspect of this type of breeding…

 In patent application US2013291134 titled: Humanized transgenic mouse model, the mice are used to test vaccines in vivo. The argument mentioned in favor of humanized mice is that this kind of testing is far too dangerous to perform on humans. I am assuming this means no one would ever give an infectious disease to a human in order to test out a vaccine, which sounds reasonable enough. The point, however, is that no one seems to object to creating animal models of the disease instead. To the contrary, this is state of the art, path-breaking and heralded breakthrough science.

In patent application US2013291135 titled: Transgenic model of ALZHEIMER'S DISEASE (AD), “the mice overproduce the amyloid-beta peptide (Abeta) and are deficient in CD45 (PSAPP/CD45-/-), which recapitulates AD neuropathology. The research points to a drug target that validates CD45-mediated microglial clearance of oligomeric Abeta”. Succinctly, this means a cure for AD, considering a mouse model of AD can be created, and the production mechanism can be targeted with a new drug. But this model also assumes that AD may be reduced to the overproduction of a peptide. And I am curious, how it is at all possible to tell that the mice have AD, since mice do little more than squeak, with no pun intended on “p”s and “q”s. But then again, I am not a neurologist…. I am just very worried that mice do not speak ….even if their biology can be engineered to overproduce the required Abeta peptide.

 In patent application US2013288361 titled: Neurodegenerative diseases and methods of modeling,“the stem cells and motor neurons derived from mice engineered to carry transgenic alleles of the normal or mutant human SOD1 gene” are disclosed and “the SOD1 transgenic motor neurons are used for the study of neural degenerative diseases”. So, that’s mouse stem cells from mice with a knocked in (KI) human gene, a transgenic process with an additional step. Why not? Advertisements for the production of custom transgenic animals run:  “You think it up, we knock it in or out…”. This is a very creative field, and neurogenerative diseases plague humans in particularly insidious and fatal ways. What better justification could there be?


I am troubled with the justifications, the inevitability, and the absence of any better alternatives. Who would stop the march of science, and progress? No one. But I would like to build an analogy (with all of its blind spots) drawing on the work the French Nobel laureate Le Clézio, and in particular his work on the Aztec civilization (Le Clézio, 1988).

 Le Clézio embarked on an in-depth and marvelous analysis of the Aztecs, including their ritual sacrifices. Although he found no good answer to the question of why the Aztecs felt so compelled to rip out the palpitating hearts of their fellow citizens to feed the hungry gods, he asked another admiring question.

What would the world be like had the Aztecs never been exterminated?  Indeed, one might wonder whether the Aztec practices of ritual sacrifice would have survived? How the inevitability and justifications of ritual sacrifice might have evolved ? Whatever the compulsion, how might that have played out?

These are obviously speculative questions…. But it makes me wonder whether in the next couple millennia we might not ask a similar question about breeding diseased or suffering animal models. I would dare to hope that either we have found all the cures to our plagues, or we have found ways of modeling (or printing) that no longer invoke sentient creatures and the justified and inevitable fabrication of suffering, even if it is just rodents.

Who would stop the march of science and progress? Not I… and certainly not in this scenario…!


Le Clézio, 1988.Le rêve mexicain.France: Gallimard.

US2013291134 Humanized transgenic mouse model

US2013291135 Transgenic model of ALZHEIMER'S DISEASE

US2013288361 Neurodegenerative diseases and methods of modeling

Aztec calendar graphic - Carey Joliff Graphic Arts  http://careyjolliffe.wordpress.com/

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Animal patents, huh? Ornamental fish

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

So, let me count the ways we breed in our most sophisticated labs…. We have KO and KI mice. These are mice bred with a gene that is knocked-out or knocked in for the purposes of testing drugs. Remember, the CISD2-KNOCKOUT MICE, the ones bred to exhibit a mitochondrial breakdown and dysfunction, to model the Wolfman Syndrome of premature aging? (Yes, that was the basis of what Brad Pit showed us in The curious case of Benjamin Button, only that was just motion picture.) Remember also the ATRN AND ATRNL1 DOUBLE GENE-KNOCKOUT MICE modeling heart disease, and the NRIPKNOCKOUT MICE modeling muscular dysfunction? Yes, all those mice are circulating around the world for testing new molecules which might reverse, control or attenuate certain diseases that plague humans everywhere.

Well, there’s lots mo’ to this transgenic story. There is plenty of variation and creativity here, both in terms of the diversity of the knockouts or knockins, and the species of animals concerned. The difficulty lies only in how many and how much you can handle at a time…
 Take for instance the ornamental fluorescent fish marketed as GLOFISH®. These are also genetically modified creatures, designed to glow under ultraviolet or blue light in fish tanks. The fish species concerned are Zebrafish (Zebra danio). They have a gene knockedin that encodes various fluoresecent proteins such as the green fluorescent gene protein (GFP) found in jelly fish (Aequorea victoria), the green fluorescent gene protein (GPF) found in sea pansies (Renilla reiformis),  the dsRed fluorescent gene protein found in mushroom coral (Discosoma), the eqFP611 fluorescent gene protein found in sea anemones (Entacmea quadricolor), the RTMS5 fluorescent gene protein found in stony coral (Montipora efflorescens), the Dronpa fluorescent gene protein found in chalice  coral (Pectiniidae), the kindling fluorescent protein (KFP) found in Venus hair anemones (Anemonia sulcata), the eosFP gene found in open brain coral (Lobophyllia hemprichii), and the Dendra fluorescent gene protein found in actocoral (Dendronephthya).  Thus,  depending on the fluorescent gene knockedin, the fish glow in various colors such as green (Electric Green Glofish® ),  red (Starfire Red Glofish®), blue (Cosmic Blue Glofish ®), purple (Galactic Purple Glofish®), etc.


Below you will find the abstract for this genetically modified (GM) zebrafish patent:

Four zebrafish gene promoters, which are skin specific, muscle specific, skeletal muscle specific and ubiquitously expressed respectively, were isolated and ligated to the 5' end of the EGFP gene. When the resulting chimeric gene constructs were introduced into zebrafish, the transgenic zebrafish emit green fluorescence under a blue light or ultraviolet light according to the specificity of the promoters used. Thus, new varieties of ornamental fish of different fluorescence patterns, e.g., skin fluorescence, muscle fluorescence, skeletal muscle-specific and/or ubiquitous fluorescence, are developed.  [Abstract WO0049150 - Chimeric gene constructs for generation of fluorescent transgenic ornamental fish]

 PS. In 2003, the FDA cleared the sale of Glofish® in the US on the grounds these fish are not used for food purposes, and therefore pose no public health risk. In 2005, the lawsuit filed by The Center for Food Safety to block the sale of Glofish® in the US was found without merit. The Center argued that the sale of Glofish® would set precedence and open the floodgates for nonfood genetically modified animals.

Beyond the ornamental… and for what it’s worth… there are other experimental uses of fluorescence as bio-markers for the detection of pollution and chemicals, only this FISH (Fluorescence In Situ Hybridization)  is hardly sentient… In fact, that’s a whole other patent species… (!)


-        The Center for food Safetyhttp://www.centerforfoodsafety.org/

-          The curious case of Benjamin ButtonThe curious case of Benjamin Button.(2008) directed by David Fincher, starring Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett.  Based on the novel by Scott Fitzgerald
-         - Beskid, O., Binkova, B., Dusek, Z., Rossner, P., Solansky, I. Kalina, I., Zidzik, J., Popov, T.A., Farmer, P.B.  and R.J. Sram (2007) Chromosomal aberrations by fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) -- biomarker of exposure to carcinogenic PAHs. Journal of Mutation Research, Jul 1:620(1-2): 62-70. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17412370

Friday, November 1, 2013

Oh, patents! Malicious Worms

Copyright ©  Françoise Herrmann
Has your computer ever acted really crazy? Have you ever watched all the letters in your files delete as if Pacman was gobbling them up, or as if you had pressed the delete key and somehow it had gotten stuck? Have you ever downloaded a file that sets off virus protection alerts, while downloading malicious code faster than you can hit your browser to close it? If you have…. chances are that it could be a worm, a weasel, or a whole can of worms… Pesky, and spineless, little electronic creatures that can mess up your computer, and your whole life while they are at it.
Mercifully, there is good virus protection software that can restore some measure of order and productivity on your desktop, and even repair all the damages incurred. The companies that produce the packages also have active networks allowing them to stay on top of worm attacks, Trojan vectors and hacker break-ins.
The following is a prime Worm-defense patent – even if software is very hard to patent: US2013047257 Systems and Methods for computer worm defense, and below the abstract.
 Abstract US2013047257 Systems and Methods for computer worm defense 
A computer worm defense system comprises multiple containment systems tied together by a management system. Each containment system is deployed on a separate communication network and contains a worm sensor and a blocking system. In various embodiments, the computer worm may be transported from a production network, where the computer worm is not readily identifiable, to an alternate network in the worm sensor where the computer worm may be readily identifiable. Computer worm identifiers generated by a worm sensor of one containment system can be provided not only to the blocking system of the same containment system, but can also be distributed by the management system to blocking systems of other containment systems
 Begone Worms and Weasels! Your place is in the bowels of nuclear warheads. That’s where you can have a field day!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Oh, patents! 3D construction printing

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

 There is more to 3D printing than bio-printing your prion-free T-bone steak! In the future, houses will be printed too! The University of California Industrial Systems Engineering program, in collaboration with NASA, are designing new robotic construction systems to build dwellings using 3D printing processes called Contour Crafting (CC). [www.contourcrafting.org]

Contour Crafting uses CAD/CAM (Computer-Aided Design/ Computer-Aided Manufacture) to streamline and automate the construction process. The automated dwelling programs are then produced using various types of scaled-up 3D printers. The giant (scaled-up) 3d printers, mounted on a robotic gantry, are designed to deliver concrete through a nozzle, layer by layer, to make the hollow (or ribbed) walls of the whole floor plan, complete with openings for windows, automated reinforcement, plumbing and electrical conduits, even automated tile work and ink-jet painting!. In a single run, it is estimated that it would take approximately 20 hours to extrude a 2500 sq. ft dwelling. Additionally, no single dwelling would have to be identical, nor would it have to be “box-shaped”, with 90-degree angles. The computer programs create the multiplicity of designs, and there are 3-D printers that can also handle curves!

Below is an animation of the Contour Crafting of a whole house.

This well patented technology, awarded to Dr. Behrokh Khoshnevis at USC, invokes multiple components and processes: Metering and plumbing devices [EP2623782]; Apparatus for automated construction comprising an extrusion nozzle and a robotic arm
[EP2610417]; Extrusion of cementatious material with different leveling characteristics [US2013059025]; Automated plumbing, wiring and reinforcement [US2012038074]; Dry material transport and extrusion [US2010136340], Robotic Gantry System [HK1136810]; Multi-chamber vibrating valve for cementitious material [US2010112119]; Technologies for sensing material flow rate in automated extrusion [WO2009070580]; Contour crafting extrusion nozzles [WO2009055580]; Extruded wall with rib-like interior [ZA200804559]; Material delivery system using decoupling accumulator [US2007148006]; Compliant, low profile, independently releasing, non-protruding and genderless docking system for robotic modules [US2007286674]; Deployable contour crafting [US2007181519]; Process of making a three-dimensional object [WO0138061]; Hand-heal electronic stereoscopic imaging system with improved three-dimensional imaging capabilities [US2003020807]

Advantageous applications are numerous. First, this technology is both energy and labor-efficient.  Construction of a typical single family home generates 5 to 7 tons of waste while contributing significantly to harmful emissions. Contour Crafting is zero-emission and zero-waste technology, due to high precision of the robotic extrusion process.  The 45- to 55% in reduced labor costs will raise controversy… But so did personal computers, when no one could have imagined the www, or the new economy that was subsumed, including thousands of new professions. And in support of labor efficiency, reduced danger and work-related hazards will surely tip the scales. There are 10,000 construction-related deaths yearly, and more than 400,000 construction-related injuries, yearly, in the US alone. 

Secondly, this is technology that could potentially resolve shelter crises in impoverished areas and urbanized centers, where lo-income neighborhoods could be computer-generated and swiftly erected. There are an estimated 1 billion people living in sub-standard conditions worldwide, according to the UN. 

Similarly, this technology also appears to have applications in natural or man-made disaster areas, that is, in locations wiped out by hurricanes, tsunamis and earthquakes, or warfare and strife in refugee situations, involving the massive and permanent displacement of populations. There are 37 million uprooted people world-wide. 

Thirdly, NASA is also participating in the development of Contour Crafting technology to build lunar colonies (i.e.; landing pads, roads, hangars, radiation protections walls). Contour Crafting is assumed capable of utilizing in situ resources, lunar regolith to make the cementitious materials that will be used to build colonies with integrated radiation shielding, plumbing, electrical and sensor networks (!) 

And finally, one could be permitted to envision that such an infinitely variable construction process might become fashionable and interesting enough for architects to explore, so that in turn, it might become a more mainstream, real and affordable option, for  anyone who wants a new abode.

Below is a T
ED talk by Dr. Behrokh Khoshnevis, Director of the Graduate Manufacturing Engineering program at USC and the inventor of Contour Crafting Technology.