Sunday, May 29, 2016

EPO Awards 2016 – Diagnostics for the real world!

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

Among the three contenders for a 2016 European Patent award, in the Small & Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) category, you will find Dr. Helen Lee, haematologist, Founder & CEO of the European-based and Sunnyvale (California)-based Diagnostics for the real world (DRW) company, and also founder of the Diagnostics Development Unit (DDU) at the Department of Haematology, School of Medicine, of Cambridge University, in the UK.  

DDU and DWR are respectively in charge of the research and marketing of highly sensitive and innovative tests for point-of-care diagnostics of infectious diseases in resource-limited settings of the developing world, and otherwise of more general interest to point-of-care diagnostics settings of the developed world.

In particular, the tests and platforms currently developed target HIV detection and the monitoring of viral loads for patients receiving antiretroviral therapies, two STDs (Sexually Transmitted Diseases) chlamydia and gonorrhea, hepatitis B, and more recently the two most severe types of Influenza  (Types A and B). However, in theory, as long as the target nucleic acid sequence is known for a particular infectious disease, a test can be developed to detect and capture it, using the DDU-DWR invention processes and devices.
 © Cambridge U.

DDU has filed 12 families of patents in connection with the tests and the two platforms allowing for point-of-care diagnostics: the SAS (Signal Amplification System) for protein targets, and the SAMBA (Simple Amplification-Based Assay) for nucleic acid targets. Twenty patents to date have been granted.

EP1301627 titled Improved detection signal and capture in dipstick assays, for example, covers the improved detection of a target nucleic acid (e.g.; HIV RNA) which, contrary to conventional (costly and time –consuming) methods of amplification using Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR), enables detection of an unamplified target nucleic acid directly on the dipstick using special DNA capture and detection probes, which will hybridise with any target nucleic acid (e.g. HIV RNA) that is present in the sample solution 

EP1301628 titled Improved capture and detection of target nucleic acid in dipstick assays, for example, further describes helper probes designed to facilitate hybridization of the capture and /or detection probe capable of hybridising to the targeted nucleic acid. 

The advantages of the DRW-DDU point-of-diagnostics tests and platforms are severalfold. Results are obtained swiftly allowing for the immediate treatment of patients unlikely, or unable, to easily return. The tests do not require the use of expensive apparatus and reagents or highly trained technicians to operate and manipulate them. The tests and platforms are heat and humidity resistant, which makes it possible to use the systems, for example, in high-temperature and humidity sub-Saharan countries. 

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, since the tests rely on the detection of target nucleic acid vs. the presence of antibodies, appearing at a later stage of an infection, these are far more sensitive tests. This is particularly advantageous for testing newborns, for example, whose infectious diseases might thus be detected prior to the formation of antibodies, or for monitoring the viral loads of patients treated with antiretroviral drugs which, under the most favorable outcomes, are almost undetectable.

Below, the abstract for EP1301628 titled Improved capture and detection of target nucleic acid in dipstick assays

Use of helper probes in dipstick assays is described. In a dipstick assay to test for the presence of a target nucleic acid in a sample solution, the sample solution is connected with the contact end of the dipstick to cause the sample solution is contacted with the contact end of the dipstick to cause the sample solution to move by capillary action to a capture zone of the dipstick at which target nucleic acid is captured. The target nucleic acid may be captured at the capture zone by a capture probe capable of hybridising to the target nucleic acid. A labelled detection probe capable of hybridising to the target nucleic acid may be used to detect the target nucleic acid at the capture zone. A helper probe may be used to enhance the binding of the capture and/or detection probe to the target nucleic acid, thereby improving the sensitivity of target nucleic acid detection.; Dipsticks and kits are also described.[Abstract EP1301628]
And yes.. according to Dr. Lee, the DRW and DDU teams all love to samba too…!

DRW – Diagnostics in the real world, Ltd.
DDU – Diagnostics Development Unit

Saturday, May 28, 2016

EPO Awards 2016 – CARMAT redux

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

Among the contenders for a 2016 European Patent Award, you will find in the LifeTime Achievement category, the cardiologist, Professor Alain Carpentier, inventor of the CARMAT heart.

Yes, this is an autonomous  prosthetic heart, complete with electronics as sophisticated as those used in aeronautics.  And yes aeronautics since this a heart arising out of an unusual collaboration between the medical establishment (Pr. CARpentier) and MATRA the French aviation, aeronautics and car constructor! CAR + MAT, also became a company!

The first CARMAT heart was implanted on December 18, 2013, marking the onset of Phase II trials with terminally ill volunteer patients. To date, 4 patients have received a CARMAT heart, with one patient surviving as long as 9 months. [Le Monde]

Ladies & Gentlemen, It's all French...
Blue blood on one side
Red blood on the other. 
And, no false-pretense..!
©Lapin dit site
The CARMAT prosthesis subsumes many different patents for each of its innovative parts, in particular  the new bioplastic materials and their method of production, the miniaturized sensors, actuators and ejectors, the rotary pump, the specific hydraulics, the embedded program controls, the fuel cell, plus more.

A few of the CARMAT patents were presented here two years ago, at Patents on the soles of your shoes, at the time of the first CARMAT transplant. [See references below for a list of the CARMAT posts]

Bonne chance Professor Carpentier!

Herrmann, F. (Jan. 12, 2014) Oh, patents ! A heart made in France
Herrmann, F. (Jan. 14, 2014) Oh, patents! Carmat connections
Herrmann, F. (Jan. 16, 2014) Oh, patents! More Carmat connections!
Herrmann, F. (Jan. 18, 2014) Oh, patents! Carmat miniaturized rotary pump
Lapin dit site (Dec 2013) Greffe d'un coeur artificiel français 
Le Monde – Mort du quatrième patient greffé du cœur artificiel CARMAT.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Oh, patents! The Slinky®

Copyright Françoise Herrmann

If you are interested in a patented toy based on enough Newtonian mechanics to make you marvel without ever having to master any of it, then just try the Slinky® !

The Slinky® is a spiral or helical spring toy that unravels and bounces back and forth from one hand to another, from one step to another down the stairs, or just across a flat surface! Slink (!), slink (!), slink (!)…. It will probably also drive your pooch wild!...

Richard T. James, an American naval engineer and the inventor of the Slinky® recited this invention in 1946 in the patent US2415012 titled Toy and process of use. The toy is purported to have been discovered accidentally when the engineer dropped a tension spring to the ground during a naval research project (Wikipedia). However, beyond the accidental spark of inspiration, there is enough embodied physics theory to build an altar.

US2415012 explicitly recites the theoretical mechanical properties of the spring invoked in the design of the toy, and also incorporates a description of how to manipulate the spring for entertainment purposes.

In particular, the invention invokes the transfer of turns from one end of the spring to the other, when the spring is bent into a semi-circular form, and the ends are moved up and down (see the patent figure drawing below). The invention also invokes a starting force and the force of gravity for the spring to “walk” down steps or across a plane surface. In particular, the inventor provides further specification of the equations of the oscillating system to explain how the spring actually “walks” on a plane surface after it has gained momentum from the initial bending step of the spring through a 180-degree arc.  

In other words…. the Slinky® gracefully tumbles down stairs as its potential energy is converted into kinetic energy (i.e.; energy-in-motion) under the force of gravity, depending on a series of physical properties such as “the radial cross-section relative to the axial cross-section of the spring” and “the compression or tension between turns”, in turn expressed as the Mass (m) Constant (C) and Stiffness (k) of the spring    

Otherwise, the actual generation of energy-in-motion that explains how the Slinky® “walks” is in fact calculated using sound wave physics, where the energy transferred from one coil to another is seen as transferred along a longitudinal or compressional wave,  which “resembles a sound wave that travels through a substance by transferring a pulse of energy to the next molecule.”

Below, figure drawing no, 4 extracted from US2415012 titled Toy and Process of use and above an image of the marketed product.

The Slinky® is still marketed today, 70 years after it was patented, and sold as “Slinky®, the walking spring toy” by Slinky®, which is part of the Alex Brands family of toys.

To date more than 3 million Slinkys® have been sold, and many more people continue to marvel at the Slinky® phsyics embodied in this toy!

Wikipedia - Richard T. James
Slinky physics - Michigan Reach Out

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Oh, patents! Louboutin Africaba

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

Just one more Louboutin design in a different stroke! A collaboration with La Maison Rose, a sanctuary for women and children in Dakar, Senegal, founded by Valérie Schlumberger, a famous go-between the arts and craftsmanship of Africa and France, actress, author, costume designer and humanitarian.

Welcome the Louboutin Africaba! A tote bursting with energy and warmth, on a multi-continent path of sustainable wages, dignity, and safety for scores of women and children in Dakar. A tote also displaying divine craftsmanship !

So, let me count the ways…! 
  • The design of the Africaba, and blueprint instructions for manufacturing, sketched on Louboutin’s drawing-board.
  • The fabulous batik fabrics and embroidery crafted in Dakar, Senegal, at La Maison Rose (The Pink House), a sanctuary for women and children.  
  • The beads handpainted  in India.
  • And finally, Italy where the bags are put together and manufactured before you can purchase them in the Louboutin stores and retailers world-wide – that is, if you can snag one fast enough! Y
Schlumberger, V, Goudier, F & D. Cazelles (2008) Style Afrique. Paris France: Editions du Chêne:

Oh, pumps! Irresistible Louboutin!

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

Ladies, hush now, let your pumps do the talkin'! 


Friday, May 20, 2016

Oh, patents! Louboutin’s removable heels

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

Not all of Louboutin’s patents are design patents. Louboutin was also awarded a French utility patent for a shoe mechanism enabling to exchange heels. The French utility patent FR2613598 , granted in 1989 and titled Système de fixation pour talons amovibles (Mounting system for removable heels) thus recites a system enabling the person wearing the shoes to effortlessly and swiftly change heels, without the use of any extra tools such as a screwdriver or wrench. FR2613598 further states that the system might be actuated with a single hand, even a single finger!

Other advantages recited include being able to change heels when they have worn out, or being able to change heels according to outfit and function. Indeed, as long as the heels are the same height, they can be fashioned out of different materials, or of different widths, to accommodate both daytime and evening wear. Thus, the multiple heel shoe can become much more versatile.

The mounting system (illustrated below) comprises male and female parts that come together and are further connected with a push-button locking mechanism located in the heel portion.

The French abstract for FR2613598 titled Système de fixation pour talons amovibles is included below as well as a patent drawing of the mechanism. 

Système de fixation pour talons amovibles caractérisé en ce qu'il est constitué d'une partie male 1 fixée sous la tige, à l'endroit où le talon vient s'incorporer. Cette partie saillante est destinée à venir se loger dans un évidement borgne 2 prévu à cet effet dans la partie supérieure du talon. La partie saillante est munie radialement d'un ergot ou téton 11 qui, poussé par un élément élastique 8, viendra se loger dans un évidement 13 prévu a cet effet dans la partie femelle pour que le système soit solidement bloqué. Des moyens de déverrouillage par bouton 16 et d'orientation 3 sont en outre prévus.
Figure 1 - FR2613598

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Oh, patents! Christian Louboutin spikes

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

Louboutin spiked
Pigalle pump
Louboutin Harvanana
spiked loafers
Presenting spiked Louboutin Pigalle pumps in canary yellow for women to the right, and  spiked Harvanana men's loafers to the left, crested and striped! 

The Louboutin spiked shoe design is patented in USD735986. titled Shoe. In this patent, it is interesting that it is not the pump design that is patented, but indeed just the ornamental "spikes". The patent specifies that the broken lines of the shoe drawings (e.g.; Figs. 1 and 4 below) are "only for illustrative purposes and form no part of the claimed design" whereas "The ornamental design which is claimed is shown in solid lines".

Thus, this "spikes" design invention appears in many Louboutin models (sneakers, flats, sandals, boots..) with many variations in spikiness (on straps, at the back of the heel piece, or evenly distributed on the whole upper). For example, the following US design patents each cover differently spiked shoe designs and models: USD735981, USD734599, USD729506, USD712641 and USD707926.

Below, figure 1 and figure 4 for the Louboutin design patent USD735986 titled Shoe.

The patent further specifies that there are records indicating that the Harvanana style was first unveiled to the public in NYC, NY on May 30, 2011; the Pigalle Spikes style was first disclosed to the public in NYC, NY on Nov. 30th, 2009; and the Rollerboy spikes (another men's spiked loafer style) was first disclosed to the public in NYC, NY on Dec. 3, 2007.



Louboutin shoes are Pygmalion shoes, try ‘em on and you’ll morph …at least until the stroke of midnight…! 

Friday, May 13, 2016

Oh patents! Christian Louboutin (2)

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

Perhaps that every star shoe designer is also an extraordinary artist.... 
In any event, this is the case for Christian Louboutin. Here are a few of Louboutin’s signature women’s shoe drawings. 
 Louboutin - Un zipped
 Louboutin - Le modèle NEURON
 Louboutin - Resille-Botte Alta-Dentelle
Louboutin - L'espad Isabelle 
Louboutin - And I said Bow, Bow, Bow
 Louboutin - Lady Grés 
Louboutin - Isolde
Louboutin - La Pluminette
 Louboutin - Pensée et là je re semelle rouge.

Oh, patents ! Christian Louboutin

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

If you ever see the soles of a pair of stilettos that are the color of Chinese New Year red envelopes, or more precisely coded Pantone 18-1663 TPX, chances are that they are Christian Louboutin shoes! 

If you are not sure, just look at the price tag…Christian Louboutin has ranked among the five top brands (i2008) and at the top (in 2009of the Luxury Insitute’s Luxury Brand Status Index (LBSI) in the category of  Most Prestigious Women’s Shoes!

And no doubt for good cause... according to Dr. Shoooes (aka Mathilde Toulot), these shoes are to die for!

Prior to setting up shop in Paris in 1991, the French shoe designer Christian Louboutin designed shoes for French luxury designer brands such as Yves St. Laurent, Chanel, and Charles Jourdan. He also worked backstage at the Folies Bergères... 

His signature red-soled shoes are famously high-heeled, but hardly exclusively… Christian Louboutin also designs high-tops, flats, boat shoes, loafers, sandals and all the other usual shoe suspects --in the most vibrant palette of colors, with the most exquisite detail and style. For men too, the red-soled Louboutin shoes also sport a full spectrum Pantone palette, and prints too!

Indeed, dare to take a peek at the possibilities! You can sort your viewing options by color, heel height, material and size at the  Christian Louboutin website!

Christian Louboutin was awarded ten US design shoe patents, with three additional US design patents awarded for a Louboutin handbag (USD751,814), a cardcase (USD696,513and a handbag clasp (USD698,550).

 As a reminder: “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).  

Louboutin Cinderella shoe
USD715034 titled Footwear and awarded on October. 14, 2014, is the Louboutin Cinderella shoe design patent. A figure drawing from the patent appears below, and next to it, the marketed and priceless Louboutin Cinderella evening shoe.

USD715034 - Footwear awarded to Christian. Louboutin

Christian Louboutin (website)