Monday, August 25, 2014


Copyright © Françoise Herrmann
-- Ok, Buddy – you, translator, homotraducens, verbal acrobat, barber, pirate, juggler, builder of bridges and cathedrals, collector of words, detective, invisible author, hybrid being, go-between, textual geologist, scribe without a face, heathen and enemy of God:  Where are your credentials and qualifications?  Z-Mapp, Ebola… you are just the unknown soldier of culture, at best a locksmith and stylistic recycler… (Extrapolated from Delisle, 2007, translations mine).

-- Thanks! As usual you are so tactful in your selection of attributions! How about ventriloquist and chameleon…  or simply informed?
Anyhow, truth be told, I borrowed ‘em. And here’s another “hand-me-down” -- verbatum from the distinguished 12-member panel of the WHO Advisory Committee on Ethical Considerations for use of unregistered interventions for Ebola virus disease, a panel which includes the NIH Head of Section on Ethics and Health Policy, among 11 colleagues, doctors and professors each chairing ethics committees of various sorts, in different countries of the world. The concluding and unanimous recommendation of the panel amounting to an unprecedented exception in rules and regulations, motivated by ethical concerns, and in a grave situation, namely:  
“In the particular context of the current Ebola outbreak in West Africa, it is ethically acceptable to offer unproven interventions that have shown promising results in the laboratory and in animal models but have not yet been evaluated for safety and efficacy in humans as potential treatment or prevention.” [WHO]

 -- So there! Mind you there is much more information to process… about z-Mapp, the patented monoclonal antibody medicine where tobacco plants are used to make recombinant proteins, I am told. And on the social side of this epidemic, the stigma and extreme hardship of the containment measures.

Delisle, J. (2007) La traduction en citations. Ottawa, Canada : Presses de l’université d’Ottawa.  
WHO – Ethical considerations for the use of unregistered interventions for Ebola Virus disease

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Oh, patents! Z-Mapp

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

According to the WHO (World Health Organization) Ebola virus disease Updates in West Africa, 
“Between Aug, 19 and Aug. 20, 2014, a total of 142 new cases of Ebola virus disease (laboratory-confirmed, probable and suspected) and 77 deaths were reported from Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone” (WHO1 – GAR1). 

As of Aug 20, 2014, according to the same WHO Global Alert and Response (GAR) page, there were 1427 deaths and 2617 cases reported. Ebola virus has a case fatality rate of up to 90%. It is one of the world’s most virulent diseases. The current survival rate in this epidemic is 47%. (WHO2-GAR)

The question that arises almost immediately is whether there is a cure for this deadly disease, and/or for preventing it from spreading any further, both locally in the villages or crowded cities of the infected areas, and internationally across borders and continents -- to Europe and the rest of the world.  Indeed the extraordinary measures of isolation that were taken to bring home for treatment two infected American missionaries,  Dr Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol, who both survived the disease, serve to further highlight the issue of treatment and access to it.

The usual scenario in connection to patented drugs and access to treatment is one of prohibitive costs, and the monopolies associated with the marketing and production of the drugs. For example, this is the well documented case of antiretroviral drugs for the treatment of Aids (Chneiweiss, 2013).  However, the availability of treatment for Edola virus disease is different in important ways that highlight a different set of ethical issues in the access to patented treatments.

The issue here pertains to a patented drug referred to as Z-Mapp, which is still in the pre-clinical stages of testing. This means that the drug, developed by Mapp Biopharmaceuticals Inc., with the support of the United States government (CDC and DoD), has only been tested in the laboratory, on animals or in test tubes, and has not yet completed the full cycle of clinical testing with humans required for assessing safety and effectiveness of the drug. A process required prior to obtaining authorization to market a drug, and specified in the provisions of US Federal Regulations Title 45, Part 46 on The Protection of human subjects, or equivalent European legislation, such as for example, France’s Code de la Santé Publique, Livre 1er, Titre II pertaining to biomedical research.,  

Who cares?  What other options beyond the miraculous are there for those people infected with the Ebola virus? If the two US missionaries survived the Ebola virus infection to return home to their families, virus free, after treatment with this experimental Z-Mapp drug, then this is already human cllinical testing with grand scale control…Well, that’s the gist of it, minus  roll-out issues. [CDC –Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever]

 Indeed the decision to make this Investigational New  Drug (IND) available under specific conditions within the context of this Ebola outbreak was unanimously approved by the WHO on August 11, 2014 [WHO3- Ethical Committee Report]. So that in a rare, and perhaps ground-breaking instance, communication finally completed in real time, between all the parties involved in the process of developing the drugs and those subjects and patients, for whom the drugs are intended in the first place – our not-so-distant neighbors in a globally connected world --infected with the Ebola virus.

Z-Mapp is patented in US2013149300 titled MONOCLONAL ANTIBODIES WITH ALTERED AFFINITIES FOR HUMAN FCyRI, FCyRIIIa, AND C1q PROTEINS. According to the patent 
specifications, the drug is designed for: 
" the prevention or treatment of human diseases including but not limited to infectious diseases (including Respiratory Syncytial virus, Ebola virus, Influenza virus), cancer (including breast cancer and B cell lymphoma) and inflammatory diseases (including rheumatoid arthritis and Alzheimer's)."
The abstract for Z-Mapp patent US2013149300 is included below as well as an image of this dreadful virus.
Disclosed herein are GNGN and G1/G2 antibodies that recognize and bind various FcRs and C1q. Also disclosed herein are glycan-optiminzed antibodies, predominantly of the GNGN or G1/G2 glycoform, with enhanced Fcgamma receptor binding achieved through CHO, Nicotiana benthamiana and yeast manufacturing systems. Nucleic acids encoding these antibodies, as well as expression vectors and host cells including these nucleic acids are also disclosed herein. Methods and pharmaceutical compositions including the monoclonal antibodies are provided herein for the prevention and/or therapeutic treatment of viral infections, cancers and inflammatory diseases.

WHO 1– Global Alert and Response (GAR) – Ebola Virus disease updates – West Africa
WHO 2- Global Alert and Response  (GAR) – Ebola virus disease
Chneiweiss, H. (2003) Sur les rivages de la misère : Épisode 1 : Le marché des médicaments essentiels. M/S – Médecine Sciences,  vol 19(8&9), pp. 892-894.
WHO 3– Ethical considerations for the use of unregistered interventions for Ebola Virus disease
CDC – Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever
US Federal Regulations –Title 45 – Part 46 on the protection of human subjects
Code de la Santé Publique – Première Partie, Chapt. 1er, Titre II – Recherches biomédicales

Aug. 24, 2014 3:32 am - SFO CA 37.62 … 6.0 on the Richter magnitude scale and no stopping the earth from quaking

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Oh, patents! Cochlear implants

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

Going back again to the 2014 European patent Awards in Berlin, and the inventors nominated for the lifetime achievement award...
Among the three contenders for this award  was an Austrian, husband and wife team: Irwin Hochmair and Ingeborg Hochmair. This team invented an improved cochlear implant, a small computerized device implanted subcutaneously with electrodes extending to the base of the spiral-shaped inner ear called the cochlea. This miniature computerized device, equipped with electrodes, stimulates the auditory nerve with an electric field in response to speech signals, thereby restoring the capacity to hear the full spectrum of speech patterns and thus the capacity to produce them in speech. To date this device has been implanted in more than 200,000 people, affording them the opportunity to hear sounds.
The Hochmair cochlear implant device has two parts: a single channel transmitter, including the sound signal processor, which is carried around by the patient and hooked to the outer ear; and a single channel receiver which is implanted subcutaneously, in front of the skull bone, including two electrodes, one active and one grounding  that extend to the base of the cochlea. An electrical field is thus created at the base of the cochlea sufficient for stimulation of the auditory nerve, and energized at a frequency bandwidth that is large enough to accommodate all speech patterns.
In contrast to other neural stimulation devices for hearing, such as those inserted in the mastoid bone, operating on the principle of bone conduction, or those inserted inside the cochlea or even inside the auditory nerve, the Hochmair device purports to simplify insertion, without placement of electrodes inside the cochlea.

The abstract for the European patent EP0076096 titled Single Channel Auditory Stimulation is included below with two patent drawings. Fig 1 is a sliced drawing of an ear showing the positions of the implant, and Fig 2 shows the two parts of the device:

Chronic auditory stimulation is achieved by establishing an electric field at the base of the cochlea whereby full speech patterns are imparted to a patient. Penetration of the cochlea is not required thereby reducing the risks in installing the implanted electrodes (26. 28). In a preferred embodiment the electrodes are disc shaped with the ground electrode (28) being larger than the active electrode (26). The active electrode is preferably placed in the round window (32) at the base of the cochlea or on the promontory. The ground electrode is placed 2-10 mm from the active electrode to thereby confine the electric field. The interconnections to the electrodes are tissue compatible insulation covered wires (24) thereby minimizing stimulation of cutaneous nerve fibers. Abstract EP0076096


In an era of wireless devices and communication, there appear more improvements warranted for this type of cochlear implant disclosed with a wired transmitter connection. And most importantly, the competition may be coming from a totally different and decentered perspective on hearing.
 Indeed, there are viable socio-cultural options arising from the ever growing visibility and strength of the Deaf community (with a capital “D”). A path taken where people choose to embrace sign language fluency, and the absence of hearing and speech, creating the Deaf way of being, that is, a rich culture of meaning and life (Padden & Humphries, 1988). Indeed, a culture so vibrant that in the year 2005, it is deploring the loss of some of its members to the hearing community via cochlear implants, (Padden & Humphries, 2005; Waltzman, 2005).  
By way of illustration, the largest Deaf university of the United States, inspired by the early 19th century Institut des sourds et muets in Paris (France), is Gallaudet University, located in Washington D.C, established by an Act of Congress in 1864, now celebrating 150 years of excellence!

Padden, C. & T. Humphries (1988). Deaf in America: Voices from a culture. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press..
Padden, C. & T. Humphries (2005). Inside Deaf culture. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Waltzman, S. (2005) Inside Deaf culture. Review in The New England Journal of Medicine, July 28, 2005, 353:436.
DOI: 10.1056/NEJM200507283530431


Saturday, August 9, 2014

Oh, patents! Waterproof makeup remover

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

 Smudgeproof and waterproof makeup are two very desirable make-up properties. Waterproof so that you can swim and sweat under the tropical sun; dance and sweat at a disco party; or work under the limelight many hours a day if you are an actress or actor, a performer or a model. Smudgeproof so the make-up resists the natural oils of the skin. Thus, there are make-up compositions of all sorts (for lips, eyes and face) that are effectively and pleasantly waterproof, smudgeproof and long lasting. Problem solved and patented.

 However, once the above dysfunctions are resolved in oil-based waterproof formulations, it also becomes very difficult to remove waterproof make-up with conventional non-waterproof make-up remover. Long lasting and waterproof makeup really works, and without a make-up remover designed specifically for removing of it, you will experience serious difficulty removing the make-up… (Barbery-Coulon, 2014)

 In comes L’Oréal, the French cosmetics giant: a recent champion of alternatives to animal testing, with a research agenda committed to the diversity of beauty, including ethnic and age differences in traditional skin or hair types; a commitment to the principles of green chemistry and responsible sourcing of raw materials; a workforce that boasts 70 % women (!), and both fellowship and foundation programs that support women in the sciences.

 An early L’Oréal make-up remover for Waterproof (WP) and Non-Waterproof make-up (NWP) is US5165917 titled Eye make-up remover with two separate phases. The patent discloses a composition that is both effective and pleasant or comfortable for removing WP and NWP eye makeup.  The composition disclosed includes two synergistic phases: an aqueous phase with at least one surfactant, and an oily phase with at least one cosmetic oil. Experimentation results are also presented to highlight both the effectiveness (make-up removal) and cosmetic properties (comfort and appearance) afforded by various formulations, with evidence in support of a 70:30 or 60:40 ratio of the two phases.

 The abstract for US5165917 titled Eye make-up remover with two separate phases is included below with an image of the marketed product, l’Oréal Artiste long lasting and water proof eye make-up remover:

A composition suitable for effective and comfortable removal of both waterproof and non-waterproof eye makeup is disclosed which includes an aqueous phase containing at least one surfactant and an oily phase containing at least one cosmetic oil. The surfactant concentration may be up to 3 wt % of the total weight of the composition. The weight ratio of the aqueous phase and the oily phase may be from 30:70 to 60:40. [US5165917]

Barbery-Coulon, L. (2014).Mascara Waterproof. Le Magazine du Monde. Le Monde, 8-8-2014.
Research and innovation in key figures
 Paperclip-listed …

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Oh, patents! The Fischer Plug

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

Going back a bit to the 2014 European Patent Oscars, held in Berlin on June 17, the 2014 Life Time Achievement award was bestowed upon 94-year old Arthur Fischer, the German inventor of the ubiquitous Fisher Plug, and more than 1,100 additional patented inventions, including the defunct flash cube and Fishertechnik toys!
Even if you know nothing about construction or hammering a nail in the wall, you will surely find a discarded Fischer plug in your basement, spot one inserted in your walls, or recognize one that looks just like the picture included here.
Disclosed  the United States in 1967, in US3315558 titled Expansion plug, there are about 10 million of these plugs -- called screw anchors, wall plugs or S-plugs – produced each day at the Fisher production plant, in different sizes and for different types of walls,

A Fischer plug is designed to maximize the load bearing capacity of the wall and to expand so as to engage and form a strong bond with the brittle material, such as brick, cement or plaster, on the surface of the anchor hole. When the screw is inserted in the plug, the plug expands to engage with the surface of the bored hole. The tapered tip of the plug was designed for easy insertion of the plug into the drilled hole. The plug is made of plastic, easily manufactured as a single part of any specified length, in contrast to the prevailing prior art, and it was designed for use by both skilled and non-skilled workers.

In the absence of an abstract, two patent drawings are included for the expansion plug utility patent US3315558.
More than half a century after the invention of the Fischer expansion plug, there are many different sorts of Fischer expansion plugs depending on different types of walls. The video below shows the animated expansion of various types of Fischer plugs..
Hope this flies with the paperclips…

Monday, August 4, 2014

Oh, patents! Gehry tubular acoustics

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

One more utility patent for this phenomenal architect of the turn of the 21st century.
US3672463 titled Acoustic system employing tubular resonators discloses an improved sound dispersion system, towards the audience, for an orchestra, using a tubular structure all around and above the orchestra. The invention effectively eliminates sound dead spots from an orchestra and reinforces low frequencies which are otherwise lost or reduced without means of amplification.
Below appears the patent abstract for US3672463 titled Acoustic system employing tubular resonators and one of the patent drawings as well as an image of a spectacular embodiment of this sound system invention, arising in the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles designed by Gehry. The organ appearing like a bouquet of 6134 curved pipes at the center of the concert hall was also designed by Gehry in collaboration with Manuel J. Rosales, a Los Angeles based organ designer. [AD classics]

Improved dispersion of the sound from an orchestra toward an audience and reinforcement of the lower frequencies in said sound are achieved through the use of tubular resonators positioned around and above the orchestra. Resonating chambers are formed in the ends of the tubes by means of transverse partitions. Electrically-driven speakers may be positioned in said tubes. [US3672463]
AD Classics: Walt Disney Concert Hall – Frank Gehry

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Oh, patents! Gehry achitectural technologies

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann
Just in case you are not quite impressed enough with the lattice and corrugated cardboard Gehry furniture design patents, the  picture to the right is one of the landmark Frank O. Gehry buildings: the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao (Spain). Built with a titanium-clad exterior using patented modeling technology influenced by aircraft engineering, this museum has become as much a destination site, as it is inspiration for the artists that bring it alive.
The architectural modeling patents listed below, assigned to Gehry Technologies, are some of the inventions connected with these extraordinary signature Gehry buildings,  such as for example the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, California (see third image on right); The Dancing House in Prague (Czech Republic); 8 Spruce Street in New York city; the Frederick Weisman Museum of Modern Art at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis (second image right) and The Gehry Tower in Hanover, Germany --each with its own curves and gravity-defying appearance:

  • US2014195963 - Method and apparatus for representing 3D thumbnails
  • US2014180641 - Method and apparatus for detecting interference in design environment
  • WO2013116859 - Computer process for determining best fitting materials for constructing architectural surfaces
  • WO2013106803 - Method and apparatus for presenting differences between 3D models 
Below appears the abstract for WO2013116859 titled Computer process for determining best fitting materials for constructing architectural surfaces, and one of the figure drawings connected to the patent and curved lines of the Gehry buildings.

A computer process for fitting construction materials to an architectural surface modeled in CAD divides the surface into domains, and defines sample points on each domain surface. Low accuracy then high accuracy iterations match a domain to a surface portion of a regular curved solid. The low accuracy match limits the type and orientation of the curved solid. The high accuracy match derives a central reference for the curved solid by defining vector pairs from among the sample points and calculating multiple resultants as cross products of vector pairs that share a common origin. Reference points are located wherever the distance between any two resultants is minimum, and the central reference, e.g. an axis, is derived from the reference points using regression analysis. The match to the domain may be iteratively improved by adjusting a parameter such as a radius until a desired accuracy is achieved. The result is compared to stored specifications to identify construction materials capable of forming the domain. Parallel processing may be employed to reduce time for solving fitting problems for large architectural projects having multiple surfaces with complex curvatures.[WO2013116859]
Pin the Gehry landmarks on Google Earth to take a peak, or include them in your globetrotting itineraries…! These are buildings to see!
And patent-wise, notice again that computer code cannot be patented, which is the reason why it appears as a method and apparatus in US2014195963, US2014180641 and WO2013106803, or as a  multiple-step process in WO2013116859. (For more  detailed explanations and the history of this fascinating issue, see post on The patentability of the QR code)

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Design patents and Utility patents - What’s the difference?

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

Just to clarify the differences between design and utility patents, beyond statutory form since design patents only have one claim and an optional description or specification, here is an explanation of the conceptual differences per US Code Title 35, Sections 101 and 171, as stated in a USPTO brochure intended for applicants. 

In general terms, a “utility patent” protects the way an article is used and works (35 U.S.C. 101), while a "design patent" protects the way an article looks (35 U.S.C. 171). Both design and utility patents may be obtained on an article if invention resides both in its utility and ornamental appearance. While utility and design patents afford legally separate protection, the utility and ornamentality of an article are not easily separable. Articles of manufacture may possess both functional and ornamental characteristics. (USPTO, p. 2)

It follows then that a single artefact can be patented both for its utility or function and its visual or ornamental properties, depending on whether these separate aspects of invention fulfill all the conditions of patentability.  This is the case, for example, with the Frank O. Gehry wood lattice furniture where the visual or ornamental appeal of the furniture is patented as design patents, and the manufacturing process of the interlocking wood lattice is patented in utility patents

Specifically, the Gehry wood lattice furniture is patented in design patents such as: USD344191 titled Dining chairUSD334098 titled Chair or USD341263 titled Club chair, and the wood lattice manufacturing process of this furniture is also patented in two utility patents, US5284380 and US5154486, both titled Furniture comprising laminated slats and methods of manufacturing such furniture 

Included below is the abstract for the utility patent US5154486 titled Furniture comprising laminated slats and methods of manufacturing such furniture, and a patent figure with corresponding image of the marketed product -- just to anchor the beautiful basket weaving of this line of furniture into something you can see!
Furniture comprises a strong, aesthetically appealing, woven lattice of interlocking slats. The slats are made of wood laminate having indentations allowing fitting of the slats across one another so as to form the lattice. Advantageously, the furniture may be manufactured of a single type of material, that of the bent wood laminate slats. No other supporting structural material is needed to make the furniture simultaneously possess the advantages of being sturdy, aesthetically appealing, economical to manufacture, and light in structure and appearance. The methods of manufacturing such furniture has also been included. [US5154486]

USPTO: Guide to filing a design patent application

Friday, August 1, 2014

Oh, patents! More Frank O. Gehry designs

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann, PhD

Here are a few more beautiful Frank O. Gehry patented design figures with their marketed images -- just in case you need to furnish your residence or have already started your xmas list of wishes!

USD346293 Coffee table 
 USD338579 Café table

 USD357185 - Lamp
 USD533364S - Chair             
As for the famous Frank O. Gehry corrugated cardboard Wiggle chairI could only find the 2014 price USD1140.00!