Saturday, April 30, 2016

Oh, patents! 2016 – EPO Award finalists - Vote here!

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

The list of finalists for the 2016 European Patent Awards has just been published. And you are warmly invited to vote in the Popular Prize category for your favorite inventor!

The EPO polling rules for the Popular Prize are interesting in that you can cast a vote every day for your favorite inventor, up to May 31!

Awards are conferred to one of three finalists in the below-listed 5 categories of Industry, Research, Small and Medium Enterprises, Non-European Patent organization countries and lifetime Achievement.

The 15 finalists were selected by an International Jury of experts both on the scientific merits and socio-economic impact of the inventions. Anyone can nominate an inventor. The Jury selects from an EPO selected short-list of approximately 200 nominations (40 in each category). So the competition is quite tough!

The winners are awarded a trophy in the form of a sail symbolizing exploration, which is each year specially crafted in the country where the ceremony will take place. The award ceremony will take place this year Lisbon, Portugal on June 9th 2016!

Here is the line-up of nominated 2016 finalists.

  • Industry

Virna Cerne, Ombretta Polenghi (Italy)
Gluten substitutes from corn
Sample patent: EP2401920A1
Sample patent:  EP1304542B1
Sample patents: EP0998731, EP1617586B1

  • Research

Alim-Louis Benabid (France)
Treatment for Parkinson’s Disease
Sample patents: EP1682218, EP1932661
Sample patents: EP2235741, EP2059810
Sample patents: EP2171260B1

  • Small & Medium Enterprises

Arminas Ragauskas (Lithuania)
Ultrasound to safely measure brain pressure
Sample patents: EP1018942, EP2111787
Sample patents: EP1728290, EP2316558, EP 2305979
Helen Lee (United Kingdom, France)
Diagnostic kits for developing countries
Sample patents: EP13011627, EP1301628

  • Non-European Patent Organization countries

Robert Langer (USA) 
Targeted anti-cancer drugs
Sample patents:EP1639029 EP1112348 EP1024801
Arogyaswami Paulraj and team (India, USA)
Faster wireless connectivity
Sample patents:EP1198963 , EP1240730
Hugh Herr (USA)
Biomechatronic leg joints
Sample patents: EP1880694 , EP1255517, EP1267756

  • Lifetime achievement

Tore Curstedt (Sweden)
Helping newborn babies breathe
Sample patents: EP2185588, EP2078038, EP2152288
Anton van Zanten (Germany, The Netherlands) 
Electronic stability control for cars
Sample patents: EP0883537, EP0339356
Alain Carpentier (France) 
Implantable artificial heart
Sample patents: EP1867351, EP1867350, EP1855005
 See also the CARMAT heart patents herehere, here and here at Patents on the soles of your shoes

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Oh, patents! Patentese…

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

The EPO Guidelines for Examining European Patent Applications (the European equivalent of the USPTO Manual of Patent Examining Procedures) specifies in Section 4.21 titled Comprising vs consisting (in English) and Comprendre et consister en (in French), the legal differences between these two terms  used in the recitation of patent claims.

 In a nutshell, the term “comprising” is construed as having a much broader and open-ended legal meaning which does not exclude any part or item not specifically mentioned, whereas the term “consisting” is construed as having a closed meaning, in that it excludes any items not mentioned.  So for example, a door patent consisting only of the wood or composite slab (not the hinges, knob or handle, or jam). This obviously has crucial implications within the context of an invention in regards the various components which will be considered as belonging to invention, and ultimately patented and excluded from third party uses, without licensing or other transfer of rights.

The European Patent Application EP 2876203A1 disclosing the SuperCritical CO2 technology, just previously discussed and upon which Nike’s Colordry dyeing process is based, presents another interesting feature.

The recitation of the SuperCritical CO2 invention precisely explains the use of the term “comprise” within the description of the invention.

Thus, for the record as an interesting example of linguistics at the intersection of law and science, and for anyone interested in the terms “comprise” vs "consisting" as governed by legal specification, I am including the relevant paragraph extracted directly from the European patent  EP2876203A1 titled  Supercritical CO2. The use of this term effectively widens the scope of the claims to include all that is stated without excluding any other steps or integers, or combinations thereof, not specifically included.

[0013] Throughout this specification and the claims which follow, unless the context requires otherwise, the word "comprise", and variations such as "comprises" and "comprising", will be understood to imply the inclusion of a stated integer or step or group of integers or steps but not the exclusion of any other integer or step or group of integers or steps.

Now, remember to mind your patentese…. It makes a huge legal difference in this case --- and most of the time. 

EPO - Guidelines for examining patent applications (4.21) Comprises vs. consisting
EPO - Directives relaives à l'examen pratiqué (Sec. 4.21) Comprendre et consister en

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Oh, patents! Nike ColorDry

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

It takes about 30 liters of water to dye a single tee-shirt using traditional water-intensive dyeing methods.  In response, Nike is pioneering the use of ColorDry a waterless dyeing process that relies on the use of Supercritical CO­2. Thus, for the estimated 30 million tons of polyester that Nike dyes yearly, the process is now waterless, with better and more consistent coloring of garments! [NIKE 1]

Various Supercritical CO2-based industrial processes, using less water and energy, are disclosed in the European patent application EP2876203A1 titled Supercritical CO2. EP2876203A1 discloses that SuperCritical CO2 is a fluid solvent technology widely used since 2011 by Nike, Adidas, and Ikea for coloring textiles [0002]EP2876203A1 further recites that Supercritical CO2 is also a process widely used since the 1980s for decaffeination of tea leaves and coffee beans, and for extracting natural products in the pharmaceutical and cosmetics industries [0002]!

So, what is Supercritical CO2?  
EP2876203A1 specifies that when a gas is sufficiently compressed, it becomes a liquid and that there is a critical temperature (Tc) and critical vapor pressure (Pc), when the gas is heated, beyond which the hot gas can never be compressed into a liquid. The substance just beyond Tc and Pc is a Supercritical fluid (SCF), that is, a substance that is neither a gas nor a liquid but that takes on many of the varying properties of both gas and liquid when the temperature and pressure are manipulated [0003]. The SCF CO2 then becomes  solvent used for extraction or purification, or in the case of Nike garments, as a waterless dying process.   

 Wait a minute!... How can the use of Supercritical Fluid CO2 (SCF CO2) be beneficial to the environment if precisely the point is to reduce all the CO2 emissions that create the Greenhouse Gas effects (GHG)?
The process of dyeing garments using SCF CO2 actually recycles the SCF CO2 remaining in the dyeing vessel, as a gas, which is then liquefied anew and re-used.  The following diagram shows the waterless SCF CO2 dyeing process, where the fabric is first rolled onto a perforated dyeing beam, which is inserted into a dyeing vessel. Inside the vessel, the SCF CO2 will be released, mixed with the dye, and forced through the fabric to color it. Then, the dye will be separated from the SCF CO2, and pressure lowered so that the SCF CO2 leaves as a gas, which is then compressed and liquefied for storage and re-used as SCF CO2. [NIKE 2]

Copyright © Nike, Inc. 

Going back to the patent application EP2876203A1 [0005], it is further suggested that the sources of SCF CO2 could potentially be already sequestered liquefied CO2, so that SCF CO2 then becomes Carbon Capture and Use (CCU) technology rather than a controversial Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) solution – at least until carbon capture still has to occur -- in the absence of a complete conversion to energy sources that no longer produce GHG emissions and CO2 in particular.

[NIKE 1] – Nike ColorDry
[NIKE 2] – Nike ColoDry  process

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Oh, patents! A few Nike Flyknit models

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

Just in case you are wondering what Nike climate flyknits look like, here are a few models in all of their vibrant colors!

Nike Air Max Flyknit  
Nike Race Flyknit
Nike Free Flyknit

Nike Kobe IX Elite Flyknit (basketball)

Nike Obra Magistra Flyknit (soccer cleats)

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Oh, patents! Nike’s FlyKnit climate tech

 Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

Flyknit is Nike’s climate shoe tech! After Nike’s many revolutions in cushioning soles, Nike's Flyknit uppers are a revolution in sustainable manufacturing processes in a bid to reduce the company's overall emissions of CO2 by 20% per unit [ Nike (1)]

 FlyKnit is micro-engineered knitting, where the types of yarn and the knit or stitches can be changed and adapted for each type of shoe and sport. Thus, for example, you will find Nike flyknit  running shoes, soccer cleats, and basketball hi- and lo- tops. Each upper is knitted separately as a single seamless piece with exactly the right amount of yarn, which means  no leftovers from any materials that are otherwise templated and cut-out of a sheet. 

Indeed, since 2012, when Flyknit became available for the general public, Nike production claims to have reduced its waste by an estimated 2 million pounds (i.e.; the weight equal to three 600-passenger-seat jets!) [Nike (2)]. Nike FLyknit Lunar 1 running shoes are also claimed to have reduced waste by 80% compared to other Nike running shoes [Nike (3)], all of which epitomizes the company's general reduce waste targets [Nike (4)]

In addition to transforming shoe manufacturing into greener, more sustainable, maker-oriented  and customizable processes, Flyknit also offers all the athletic-based performance advantages of being unbelievably light (the Nike Flyknit Racer shoe upper weighs 1.2 ounces or 34 grams) breathable, form-fitting (sock-like) and supportive in all the right places as it is engineered -- at no extra weight -- with Nike’s flywire technology too! [Kinitting Industry]

Nike’s Flyknit climate technology is also a highly patented technology at the intersection of programming, engineering, and design.There are an estimated 500 Nike patents disclosing flyknit climate technology, whether it is, for example:
  •  the industrial processes invoked in producing a seamless knitted “bootie” (US20150342284,  US20150342285, US20150342286) or the flatknit technology (US20080110048)
  • the technology invoked in making the flyknit materials water-repellent  (US20150237948)
  • the technology to combine tensile flywire ribs with flyknit (US20160090670)
  • the knitting process for a monofilament heel and body (US20160058099)
  • the knitting process to incorporate an ankle cuff, 
  • the computerized design tools that enable virtual 3D prototyping of the flyknit uppers (WO2015200320)  to avoid costly single run prototype
  • the knitting process to incorporate the tongue with the rest of the upper (US20150216257)
  • the technology that connects the flyknit upper to the rest of the shoe (US20150208753) 
  • the knitting of the knitted component (US20150272261)
  • the incorporation of tensile threads to adjust auxetics - the perpendicular resistance of threads (US20160058098)
  • the technology for obtaining the brilliant “lenticular” visual effect of different color, depending on the angle from which you look at the flyknit upper (US20160088894)
  • plus, many, many more patented details.

      So, if you are looking for climate tech sports shoes, loaded with patented technologies --not only on the soles of your feet -- but for the uppers too, then check out Nike flyknit models! There are walking, running, cross-training, soccer cleats and basketball lo- and hi-top flyknits -- in dazzling colors too!

Nike (1) Nike energy cut targets
Nike (2) Innovations
Nike (3) Nike Flyknit More haste, Less waste
Nike (4) Reduce waste
Knitting industry - FlyKnit a seamlessly knitted running shoe

Friday, April 22, 2016

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Oh, patents! Nike Flywire

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

Ever wondered about the suspension cables that criss-cross the uppers of your Nikes? They may appear in various configurations as embroidered threads into the upper’s fabric, as ridges sitting on top, or as strings extending from the lacing apertures that you could almost pluck, sometimes sandwiched between two layers. That’s Nike flywire technology!

Flywire technology with its two sets of crisscrossed strands (41 and 42 on the figure drawing  is primarily designed to provide lightweight containment within the void of the shoe, so that your foot does not slip and slide off the sides of the sole or roll forward, especially when the upper is also made of lightweight and form-fitting or stretch material. In patentese, you might say that this is considering "the sole and upper are cooperatively connected." 

The crisscrossing and strategic positioning of the strands relative to the anatomy of the foot-in-motion are engineered so that the force load of each thread is known, and the spacing of the threads can be calculated.

 In the latest models, the threads are made of Vectran™, a fabricated liquid crystal polymer (LCP) fiber,  which has a tensile strength 5 times greater than that of steel and a thickness the size of a human hair! So that when these wires are incorporated into the upper, they provide stronger support that any other sort of materials previously used for maintaining upper support such as leather, polymer sheet layers, textiles or synthetic leather. 

There are however significant added benefits to the incorporation of flywire technology into the uppers of hundreds of Nike shoe models, chief among which is a concern for the sustainability of the shoe manufacturing process.

Indeed, according to US20120023778 titled Footwear incorporating angled tensile strand elements, where this technology is disclosed,  each material used in the upper of a Nike shoe has a specific function: textiles for breathability, foam compression for comfort, leather for durability, the combination of which adds weight, complexity and waste to the manufacturing process. That is, considering that the various material parts have to be cut, superimposed or connected together to form the upper. 

Thus, because of the ease with which flywire technology is incorporated directly into the fabric of the upper, whether woven or knit, it does not add waste or complexity to the manufacturing process. The upper requires a certain amount of thread with no “leftovers”. And whatever is used is usually qualified as “ridiculously light”, which means that athletes have less weight to carry, and thus the added capacity to perform better.

So, if you are looking for green technology… The sort that is surreptitiously part of a planetary effort to cool planet Earth, to reduce waste and emissions of greenhouse gases, then you might consider Nike flywire tech!

 The Abstract for US20120023778 titled Footwear incorporating angled tensile strand elements is included below as well as some of the figure drawings. 
An article of footwear may include various first strands and second strands. The cutting and second strands may extend from an area proximal to lace-receiving elements to an area proximal to the sole structure. The first strands may have a substantially vertical orientation and the second strands may have a rearwardly-angled orientation. The first strands may be located in a midfoot region of the footwear and the second strands may be located in both the midfoot region and a heel region of the footwear. Angles between the first strands and the second strands may be at least 40 degrees. Additionally, the second strands may have at least fifty percent greater tensile strength than the first strands.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Oh, patents! EKO™ Core

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

If you do not want to ditch your analog stethoscope, and at the same would love to use a digital one, how about purchasing an electronic attachment?

The EKO Core stethoscope attachment will transform almost any analog stethoscope into a digital one, and stream the data collected during examination directly to your portable phone or tablet via wireless Bluetooth™ connection. 

US2015257728 titled Stethoscope, Stethoscope Attachment and Collected Data Analysis Method and System, recites this invention developed and tested at UCSF. 

Beyond the reduced costs of an attachment only for negotiating the switch from analog to digital auscultation, the most important advantage is that the analysis and diagnosis of sounds no longer depend exclusively on the practitioner’s listening skills.

Indeed, when using digital auscultation, sounds can be recorded and transferred to another device for analysis and diagnostic purposes. 

However, there is yet another advantage recited as part of this invention, since there are provisions for the ornamental aspects of the attachment to be be specifically designed with an appeal for pediatric patients, for example with butterfly wings.

Thus, the EKO™ core attachment, optionally packaged in a way that is appealing to children, is designed to attach to a conventional analog stethoscope, to convert analog to digital signals, and to send them wirelessly to a storage and analysis device equipped with an EKO™ app. This results in possibilities of remote diagnosis in underserved populations, collection and storage of examination data for educational and training purposes, and kid friendly experiences in primary care. 

The Abstract of this invention, disclosed in US2015257728 titled Stethoscope, Stethoscope Attachment and Collected Data Analysis Method and System, is included below. A patent figure drawing and an image of the device are also included. 
A device for converting acoustic data collected by a stethoscope into digital data for transmission to a processor for storage and/or comparison with data stored in a database, and to optionally provide computer generated suggestions for diagnosis, is provided in the form of an in-line device interposable between a head of the stethoscope and an acoustic transmission portion of the stethoscope, or is integral with the head, and advantageously has the appearance of an icon of pleasing appearance, for example, a butterfly, in which are incorporated the structural requisites of a functioning stethoscope and/or capabilities for receiving and transmitting to a diagnostician, audio signals gathered from patient examination, and optionally also other data collected at examination and/or following the examination. The butterfly-shaped device, includes a central body advantageously serving as a conduit for transmitting sound received from the patient to the physician or a remote system for analysis and diagnosis.                 Abstract US2015257728