Sunday, March 31, 2013

Oh, Patents! Asics® gel soles

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann
Asics® sports shoes are known for the gel they contain inside the heel and/or forefront portions of their soles, designed to cushion or to shock-absorb impact with the ground when running or jogging, or for other types of aerobic activity. And as you probably suspect quite rightly, this technology is patented, granting 
negative rights to the inventor or the assignee to prevent competitors from producing, marketing, selling or otherwise licensing such a gel technology for athletics shoes.
An interesting aspect of this patented technology concerns the way the configuration of the recessed cavities containing the gel inside the soles has evolved. In an early 1988 disclosure of this invention there is a plurality of chambers filled with gel, each gel-filled cavity separated by an air chamber. In another 1996 subsequent disclosure of this invention, the evolved gel-filled cavity has a plurality of flexible partitions, some of them gating the gel flow, and others directing the gel circulation within the cavity, from one chamber containing more gel to another containing less gel.
The difference in design reflects increased knowledge of what causes injury to lower limbs, that is to knees, ankles and feet, as a result of repetitive, heel-first high-impact sports such as running and jogging, or other types of forefoot-first high-impact sports such as aerobic exercise and movement involving jumping, as in basketball or volleyball.
 Here are patent drawings of the two different inventions pertaining to soles with gel-filled cavities, and of a 2013 marketed Asics® shoe product, with walls on the side of the shoe to see the gel cavities inside the soles.
Sole [US4768295 - 1998] altShoe comprising a liquid cushioning element [US5493792 - 1996] (The gel chambers appear dotted.)alt

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Oh, Patents! - Cosmetics - Razors

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann
Gentlemen! It’s your turn now. There’s more than one patent in your razors with a generous portion of mechanical engineering! You probably have all used safety razors where the head of the razor now pivots relative to the handle, in view of espousing the contours of your skin with every shaving stroke, and preventing cuts. You have also probably used electric razors where the motor is usually placed in the handle of the razor with some form of transmission to the blade area, providing you with an effortless shave! Gillette trailblazes forward to bring you a rotary motor inside the pivoting head of the razor that further bypasses the costly complexities of discarded blades, coupled to gear components transmitting the forces of the motor. 
The marketed result is the Proglide® Fusion® Power razor, a state of the art razor with a battery operated motor engineered inside the pivoting safety head of the razor, a discardable blade-only cartridge, and a dispensing lubrastrip to hydrate with every stroke!

And, of course, the best part is your shaved skin… as soft as baby's skin…!
A safety razor has a handle (1) and a head structure (5) mounted for pivotable movement relative to the handle during shaving. The head structure (5) includes a motor (18) housed in a sealed chamber (9) for driving a device in use of the razor, such as to reciprocate a guard component or a blade, to vibrate the head structure, to actuate a dispensing device for delivering a shaving enhancement fluid, or to oscillate a support platform (101) on which a blade unit (110) is mounted. The shaving cartridge can include a guard component (38) with projections (39) which are moved towards and away from the skin being shaved when the guard component is reciprocated by the motor (18). [WO2006043027]

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Oh, Patents! - Cosmetics - Mascarca (2)

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann
Ladies, there’s a patent in your mascara! And it’s a long and intricate formula! Your mascara won’t stay on just like that, with the flick of a wand or the twitch of someone’s well connected nose!... It takes a lot of lab work and research to figure out the smudge resistance, water tightness, and easy removability of your favorite mascara! But, you can trust L’Oréal to come up with a LONG-WEAR MASCARA COMPOSITION that pushes the frontiers of mascara formulas and resolves all the problematic situations of the prior art.
Just in case you are wondering what’s in your mascara, here’s a list of some of the hydrophobic homopolymers and/or copolymers, included in the “wax” part of this “Long-wear mascara composition”:
“[0027] Suitable monomers for the hydrophobic homopolymers and/or copolymers include, but are not limited to, cyclic, linear or branched, substituted or unsubstituted, C2-C20 compounds such as, for example, styrene, ethylene, propylene, isopropylene, butylene, isobutylene, pentene, isopentene, isoprene, hexene, isohexene, decene, isodecene, and octadecene, including all ranges and subranges therebetween. Preferably, the monomers are C2-C8 compounds, more preferably C2-C6 compounds, and most preferably C2-C4 compounds such as ethylene, propylene and butylene.” [US2012020907]
Of course there’s more to it than this single list of suitable monomers. The patent runs 0110 paragraphs of suitable components, preferredparticularly preferred and most particularly preferred compounds and embodiments, as well as references to the processes for producing the Long-wear mascara composition.
It’s just that there’s more than meets the eye, that’s got: 
excellent shine, water-proof and/or smudge-resistance properties, having improved properties relating to removability from their containers, removability after application using water and/or volumization”….[0001]
Not to mention a scope of smudge-proof resistance that extends to lipsticks, eye-liners, eye shadows and foundations…
Oh!, and Gentlemen, please be patient…! There are some cosmetic patents for you too – especially brought to you by Gillette Co!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Oh, Patents! - The Ballbarrow

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann
The unpatented invention of the wheel, a circular component rotating on a thrust bearing axle, dates back several thousand years to the Neolithic and Bronze Age, and the ancient civilizations of India, China, Egypt and the Olmecs in Central America! But it wasn’t till 1978 that the wheel was re-invented by James Dyson as a Ground engaging member for movable structures, in the British tradition of the hovercraft!.... And the first embodiment of this invention was the Ballbarrow!
A Ballbarrow is a wheelbarrow equipped with “two relatively rotable [nylon] cups….having flanges ….which provide the axial thrust bearing…”, that is, a ball, functioning as a wheel!
Beyond impressing your neighbors with your cool-looking and stylish British barrow…. there are plenty of advantages to Ballbarrows! The ball at the front gives stability to a loaded barrow, preventing it from tipping. It also prevents the barrow from marking or sinking into muddy ground. The ball also facilitates the negotiation of uneven terrain. And finally, it also never rusts, since it is made of plastic.
 On another level, of course, the scope of this invention is hardly limited to barrows! Indeed, and still many years later, your favorite Dyson vacuum cleaner also negotiates the uneven terrain of your living room with a large yellow or purple ball instead of wheels!....
Here is the abstract of this invention and one of the drawings of the GROUND ENGAGING MEMBER FOR MOVABLE OBJECTS:
"A combined radial and axial thrust bearing for a movable structure e.g. a wheelbarrow [...] comprises two relatively rotatable cups 22, 25 having flanges 24, 26 which provide the axial thrust bearing. Preferably the bearing cups are made of nylon 6. [GB1510011]

Friday, March 22, 2013

Oh, Patents! - Cosmetics - Mascara Brush [WO2009153761]

Copyright © FrançoiseHerrmannDoes your mascara brush accumulate an excess glob of mascara at the tip? Does your mascara spread too thin on your eyelashes? Is it difficult to apply the mascara evenly, even with a large brush? No sweat, there is a patent for your mascara brush that will resolve all of these problems with the prior art of mascara brushes! L’Oréal has done the lab work on cylinder and stem diameters, on a wiper lip at the entrance of the reservoir for the mascara, and on piston effects, to bring you this new invention for state of the art mascara application.
Here is the abstract of this invention titled MASCARA BRUSH, and one of the invention drawings:
The present disclosure concerns a reservoir and application device comprising: an applicator (3) having a stem (5) and a brush (8) at the end of this stem, the brush (8) presenting a largest transversal dimension (L) between 9 and 14 mm, the brush being at least 30 % wider than it is thick in cross section, a reservoir (2) containing the product (P) to be applied, having a wiper member (20) defining a wiper orifice (22) traversed by the brush when it is removed from the reservoir, the diameter (d) of the wiper orifice being between 2.5 and 5.5 mm.[WO2009153761]
Please notice all the -ing verb forms too!...

Thursday, March 21, 2013

You are on fire! - Google + Addidas smart talkin’ shoes!

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann
Google’s smart talkin’ shoes, developed in a partnership with Addidas, include Bluetooth technology for connection to your mobile device, a gyroscope for motion sensing, an accelerometer to further quantity energy expenditure, pressure sensors on the soles, and a speaker to give you voiced feedback on your level of activity…That is, the shoes will admonish you when you are lazy, and cheer for you when you are active!...
“I love the wind in my laces” the shoes will tell you…. when you start to run! “Call 911, because you are on fire” they will say, when you are playing basketball… And, “This is boring…” if you are just sitting on a park bench…
These shoes must be designed for Mrs. Obama’s “Let’s move!” campaign to solve the national childhood obesity epidemic. In any event, they are part of a trend in health monitoring devices (like Nike Fuel Band or Motion X's Jawbone UP) that give you feedback on your body metrics and activity, except that the Google + Addidas smart talkin’ shoes really talk to you, and are sarcastic about it too, if you are lazy and inactive!
On the up side, Explorers testing the product have mentioned that these shoes are motivational since the testers found themselves trying to impress the built-in coach with a superior level of activity!
The Google + Addidas smart talkin’ shoes were unveiled at an SXSW® - South by Southwest conference & festival, in Austin, during the week of March 8 to17, 2013. There are apparently no plans yet for marketing this prototype of the smart talkin’shoes.
This is just another one of Google’s brilliant partnerships for exploration in the domain of ubiquitous computing, at the intersection of wearable computers, the Internet and the human body. Stay tuned! And listen below...

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Oh, Patents! - Google's wearable computer (US2013002724)

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann
Have you seen anyone sporting Google Glass, a wearable, head-mounted computer?
The very first models are to be released this March 2013 to 1000 selected applicants who composed to the prompt:”If I had Glass….” , and then later this year, to the rest of the world. They come in 5 different colors: Tangerine, Charcoal, Shale, Cotton and Sky. With this featherweight, head-mounted computer in a tiny glass cube suspended over your right eye, you will be able, for example, to share what you are seeing in real time, take a picture, ask for directions and see them in front of you, record a message, or ask for a translation – all of this, hands free, voice-activated or with a few taps to the Glass side-arm!

Indeed, this is ubiquitous computing, at a whole new level of omnipresence and Amplifed Reality (AR). This Space-Age looking pair of spectacles has no lenses (and no plural) - Google Glass refers to the tiny glass cube embodying the computer- although eventually, you will be able to add your own prescription or sun lenses to the frame, and remove the Glass cube and its arm to dock it onto your own eyewear. Here is the official picture of the Google Glass, head-mounted computer... perfected for the ’hood :

The patent for this invention, USUS2013002724, filed by Google. Inc, titled: WEARABLE COMPUTER WITH CURVED DISPLAY AND NAVIGATION TOOL, was awarded on January 3, 2013, to a team of inventors:HEINRICH MITCHELL [US]; TAUBMAN GABRIEL [US]; GEISS RYAN[US]; BRAUN MAX [US]; HO CASEY [US]. It comes complete with …..
….systems, methods, and devices for interfacing with a wearable heads-up display via a touch-operable input device. The wearable heads-up display may include a display element for receiving and displaying display information received from a processor, and may also include a wearable frame structure supporting the display element and having a side-arm extending away from the display element. In some embodiments, the display information may appear at least partially curved to a user. In some embodiments, only a portion of the display information is shown on the at least one display element. The side-arm may be configured to secure the heads-up display to a user's body in a manner such that the display element is disposed within a field of view of the user. The touch-operable input devices secured to the wearable frame structure is configured to sense at least one of a position and movement of a touch or finger along a planar direction relative to a surface of the input device, and to provide corresponding input information to the processor. A navigation tool may also be displayed on the at least one display element for indicating the location of the touch on the touch-operable input device”. [US2013002724]
And, here are some of the patent drawings of the wearable spectacled computer, and a picture of the final marketed product. You will notice the leap in styles from fiction to AR, from Harry Potter to state of the 21stcentury runway fashion and the ‘hood…enough to trump all the optometrists of the world during the long patent examination process…!

Troll defense! - The SHIELD Act

Copyright © Françoise HerrmannThe bipartisan SHIELD Act (Saving High-tech Innovators from Egregious Legal Disputes) is a bill designed to protect start-ups and innovators from lawsuits filed by patent trolls. Proposed by Oregon Democrat Congressman Peter DeFazio, this law would make patent trolls liable for the costs of the defendants’ legal defense fees, when the defendants win.
Companies sued by patent trolls often opt to pay licensing fees because the costs of a trial to defend themselves would force them out of business.This piece of legislation would at least allow the defendants to recoup the costs of a defense trial.
 However, there is much opposition to this bill because such a SHIELD law would create precedence for Tort law in general.
Stay tuned to see whether H.R. 6245 ever gets voted by Congress! The terms (and actions) of “Patent trolling” would then be written in as Tort.
Oh Torte!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Key concept: Trolling

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann
The term Troll (in reference to patents) was coined by an Intel VP who was sued for libel when he used the term “patent extortionists”. Thus, the term originates in the computer electronics world, even if conceivably it could apply to other patenting domains.
Definition of trolling per Stephen Levy in Wired Magazine (Dec. 2012):
“Though trolling may be frowned upon, it can present an irresistible business model. It costs a few thousand dollars to secure a patent, which can easily bring millions through litigation. That helps explain why trolling exploded since the turn of the century. In 2011 NPE (Non Practicing Entities) brought 5842 suits with a direct cost of 29 billion in legal and settlement fees – more than 4 times the haul in 2005”.(p. 227)
So what’s patent trolling? This is a patent “watch” and patent “enforcement” activity where an NPE, a law firm and/or a VC (venture capital) firm, buys patents (becomes assignee), and once owner of the patents, seeks to enforce the patents through lawsuits or litigated licenses. This activity is much criticized as it is perceived as “leeching”onto the patenting system. That is, instead of using the patents just acquired to create new products, the NPE players are using their purchased patents to file infringement lawsuits and/or to intimidate companies into licensing the use of a patented technology.
Then, there's also this sweety pie! :-)

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Key concepts: Blockbuster drugs & the Patent Cliff

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann
Blockbuster drugs and the patent cliff are two terms defined in E.D. Zanders (2011) The Science and business of drug discovery: Demystifying the jargon.
Blockbuster drugs, such as Lipitor®, Plavix® and Levaquin®, are the world’s best-selling drugs. The“patent cliff” refers to the expiration date of patent protection and the potential loss of revenues arising when Generic Drug companies begin to manufacture the drug whose patent protection has expired.
Remember that patents grant an inventor, or his or her assignee(s), exclusive rights to market, manufacture, sell or license their newly discovered drug for a period of 20 years. Once this period of exclusive rights expires, it’s the patent cliff, as Generic Drug companies begin production of the same formula drugs under generic name.
This is exactly what happened to Pfizer’s Lipitor®, whose patent expired in November 2011, and which is now marketed under the generic name atorvastatin by several Generic Drug companies, at a fraction of the Lipitor® price.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Key concept : Evergreening

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

Evergreening is seen as a way of extending the protection period of drug patents. The drug formula is changed or improved, and it is hoped that the patent’s protection period is extended for another 20 years. The question that the examiners ask, and the courts invoke, is then the following: does the new and improved formula demonstrate an inventive step?
Demonstrating an inventive step is the second condition of patentability, after the novelty condition. Indeed, patents must first be novel, and an improvement may count as novelty, but the novelty or improvement must also be “non-obvious” to those skilled in the art. This means that the formula of a patent may be “new and improved”, but in order to qualify as a patent, it must also demonstrate an inventive step.
So yeah, there’s evergreening… and evergreening is never a patent…..:-)
 New & Improved but does it demonstrate an inventive step?alt

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Oh Birkenstocks! (DE4235261 – 1994)

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann
On April 21, 1994, Karl Birkenstock was awarded German patent,  DE4235261, for: Footwear in form of sandals, shoes, slippers, mules, trainers or clogs - has upper consisting of interlocking strips of material with matching cut out parts and attachments, considerably widening the scope of the invention. And, according to the Figures (I do not read German…), the sandal looks very much like a modern iteration of your beloved, corky cumfy Berkies….

Oh Birkenstocks! (US3722113 – 1973)

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann
What’s your favorite shoes? Birkenstocks are cult shoes, made in Germany, since 1774! (1774? Yes, that’s without a typo…!) This is a Birkenstock family-owned business for 230 years, toiling for perfection in the contour of soles. The first Birkenstock Patent, US3722113, was granted March 3, 1973 to Karl Birkenstock, for an Article of Footwear, which looked much like massage footwear in 1973....
An article of footwear has uppers which may [be] in form of straps, and a sole of yieldable elastomeric material which is provided at least on its upper and, according to some embodiments, on its lower surface with projections which extend substantially normal to the general plane of the respective surface. The projections may be of different length. [US3722113]

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Oh Patents! - Geox Amphibiox! (3)

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

"The present invention relates to a method for manufacturing a waterproof and vapor-permeable shoe. [...]Traditionally, vapor-permeable shoes are those which use natural materials such as leather or equivalent products, which however, in the presence of rain or bad weather, because of their vapor-permeable properties, do not ensure good waterproofing and indeed absorb rather easily water which can penetrate also through the stitched seams used for assembly." [WO2008119683]


Oh Patents! - Geox Amphibiox (2)

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

Geox Amphibiox by Geox! The waterproof footwear that breathes through micropores and defies all notions about "holes in your shoes"... Patented amphibiox technology for waterproof and vapor-permeable shoes.

Oh Patents! - Geox Amphibiox! (1)

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

Got smelly feet? No sweat! Geox has patented shoes with sole and upper that “breathe” and by the same token “defy the notion of holes in your shoes”! Geox’s patented technology incorporates a perforated outsole that lets the steam generated by sweaty feet out of your shoes, while remaining waterproof. The inside membrane, also attached to the upper shoe, is wick-away with micropores larger than vapor molecules to let the steam out, but also small enough to prevent water droplets from coming in. This ingenious shoe is then capable of regulating the microclimate inside your shoes! Here is a picture of the cutest Geox  pump with an amphibiox sole!

This patent titled: METHOD FOR MANUFACTURING A WATERPROOF AND VAPOR-PERMEABLE SHOE AND SHOE OBTAINED WITH THE METHOD was awarded to Linda Muller, a Swiss inventor, and then assigned to Geox SpA, an Italian company, which manufactures both shoes and clothing with the breathing "Amphibiox" technology.

And for all those patent-savvy pros of the  NYU Patents Translation course, who can now crack the alphabet soup patent codes. This patent was originally awarded in Switzerland as CH00538.07, then filed and awarded under the PCT as WO2008119683 and the EPC as EP2131691, and with the USPTO as US2010/0115792.J

Monday, March 4, 2013

Mirrors of time (3) – Nike Free(TM)

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann
One more patented sole system and upper footwear structure from Nike, Inc, marketed as Nike Free(TM). And a huge stride in time since slip-resistant crepe rubber soles with grid, waffle or checkered patterns, designed to both cushion and secure the user’s gait. 

This is your homework, in purple and green, dear Students.... Now, pray tell me, what’s your domain and what are you tracking through time? Prosthetic limbs, reading glasses, clocks, watches, bicycles, automobiles, airplanes, or textiles ?
Patents mirror time, and we could show this reflection together, on more counts than footwear.
 US2005076536  An Article of footwear with a stretchable upper and an articulated sole structure
An article of footwear is disclosed that includes at least one of a stretchable upper and an articulated sole structure. The upper may include an exterior layer and an interior layer. The exterior layer forms at least a portion of an exterior of the upper, and the exterior layer includes a plurality of incisions that extend through the exterior layer. The interior layer is located adjacent an inner surface of the exterior layer, and the interior layer is exposed through the incisions. The sole structure may include a connecting portion and a plurality of discrete sole elements. The connecting portion is positioned adjacent the upper and may extend along a longitudinal length of the upper. The sole elements extend from the connecting portion, and the sole elements are separated by a plurality of sipes that extend upward into the sole structure.

Mirrors of time (2) - Nike Air Max + 2013 Limited Edition

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann
adah! My new Air Max+ 2013 Limited Edition Nikes with cavity viewing system [US2012324761] on the full length of the sole structure.
And sensor system connected to the sole structure [US2013019694]!
Add to that: waffle skin sole and 500 candlepower, 360-degree reflectivity on logo, swoosh and laces… and… you got high tech patented shoes! J

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Mirrors of time (1)

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann
You will find that patents are like mirrors of time, and that inventions pepper your daily experience.
Remember the 1929 crepe soles patent on the first week of class? Crepe soles offering slip resistance on wet surfaces. In 1929, crepe soles came as big news in comparison to leather soles, but still too slippery to wear for viable commercial success....
Now, in 2013, here are state of the art sole structures and systems, brought to you, for example, by Nike, Inc! That is, soles with sensors to connect to all your body metric, Bluetooth-enabled, mobile devices, and peek-a-boo sole systems so that you can really see the shock absorbers in your soles! That's almost 100 years reflected in the soles of your shoes!
US2013019694 - Footware having a sensor system
"An article of footwear includes an upper member and a sole structure, with a sensor system connected to the sole structure. The sensor system includes a plurality of sensors that are configured for detecting forces exerted by a user's foot on the sensor. The sensor system also includes a port that is configured to receive a module to place the module in communication with the sensors. The port includes a housing with a chamber configured to receive the module and an interface engaged with the housing and having at least one electrical contact exposed to the chamber.Additional retaining structure and interface structure may be included". [Nike, Inc.]
US2012324761 Footwear with cavity viewingsystem
sole structure for an article of footwear and a method of making the sole structure is disclosed. The sole structure can include an outsole and a midsole. The midsole includes a cavity with a protruding portion. A U-shaped transparent member is configured to cover the cavity so that the protruding portion remains visible from within the cavity." [Nike Inc.]

Wacky patents - Beerbrella

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann
Here is US
“The present invention provides a small umbrella (Beerbrella”) which may be removably attached to a beverage container in order to shade the beverage container from the direct rays of the sun. The apparatus comprises a small umbrella approximately five to seven inches in diameter, although other appropriate sizes may be used within the spirit and scope of the present invention. Suitable advertising and/or logos may be applied to the umbrella surface for promotional purposes. The umbrella may be attached to the beverage container by any one of a number of means, including clip, strap, cup, foam insulator, or as a coaster or the like….[…]”

Dear students,
Please note the term "removably", a typical patent construction involving the use of adverbs, and brace yourself for a toasty beer, as shielding your beer from the direct rays of the sun is one energy-efficient way of warming it.
In the same family of inventions, a forthcoming application
 concerns SPF 3 UV protection, directly engineered as coating for hops…... :-(
LOL, yes… this is hardly serious. FH