Monday, August 22, 2016

What’s humanitarian got to do with patents?

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

Humanitarian action is historically connected to the contractual aspects of patents, that is, the right conferred upon the inventor or his assignees to exclude others from using or marketing the invention without a license or other sort of permission.

Indeed, a debate exists since the end of the 19th century concerning the patenting of medicines. Initially, from 1850 to the 1960s, at least in Europe, both food and pharmaceutical products were excluded from patenting rights. Early legislators believed that such rights would be in conflict with the public health interest. That is, the exclusive rights conferred upon inventors and their assignees includes setting prices, and thus the potential to bar access to products affecting the well-being of people on a large scale.

However, in the 1960s and 70s, pharmaceutical products became patentable, albeit  with special mandatory licensing clauses, still in an effort to protect the public health interest.

Today, pharmaceutical patents constitute the largest sector of patenting activity in both the United and Europe. And the situation feared by 19th century legislators has in many cases played out, in the third world and to a lesser extent in the rest of the world.

Humanitarian organizations such as Doctors Without Borders together with many players across a wide spectrum of public and private activity relentlessly raise the issue of patented medicine to the forefront of public debate (DWB 2015). And it is probably fair to say that a long history of strife and betrayals of the public health interest now exists.

DWB (2015) - Doctors without Borders  – The cost of medicine: A special report

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Oh, patents! Elissabide’s espadrille improvements (2)

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

JRB Elissabide filed many improvements for the rope-soled and canvas espadrille. This footwear, considered casual or summer shoes,  is one of the Basque region’s flagship products, worn and loved in many places worldwide.

The improvement disclosed in 1948, in FR972184, titled Semelle de corde à épaisseur constante, concerns manufacture and composition of espadrille rope soles.

According to the disclosure of the invention, the prior art of rope soles was such that espadrille soles flattened out very swiftly under the repeated pressure of impact with the ground. That is, an unworn espadrille sole might measure 1 centimeter and flatten down to 4 or 5 millimeters within a few days. The soles lost their thickness because the strands of the rope were braided with a core consisting of textile alfa or jute fibers, which offered no resilience upon repeated impact with the ground.

The invention disclosed in FR927184 thus consists in replacing the core of textile materials within the braid with natural or synthetic rubber strands, or in some variations of the invention, using just the rubber strands.

Following statement of the above identified wear problem, and a brief description of how the proposed invention remediates, the patent further discloses a 4-step manufacturing process The 4-step process claims patenting rights on: (1) the formula of the rubber mixture for the new rubber core, (2) the process of manufacturing the core rubber strands of various diameters out of the rubber mixture produced, (3) the production of the braiding using both the rubber core and outer textile strands, and finally (4) the manufacture of the soles, using the rubber core strands, with or without outer textile braiding.

The resulting product of the invention is then purported to be an espadrille with an unprecedented soft or cushy sole, whose wear or thickness remains constant across time --at least well until the rest of the espadrille falls apart.

This patent does not include any drawings of the manufacturing processes. 

Friday, August 19, 2016

World Humanitarian Day

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann 

This year, the theme for World Humanitarian Day is set to One Humanity, and in particular the estimated 130 million people worldwide, thrown into impossible situations of conflict and disaster, who depend on humanitarian aid to survive. 

World Humanitarian Day was founded seven years ago, with an August. 19 celebration date selected to commemorate the bombing of UN Headquarters in Baghdad, Irak, in 2003.

This year’s celebration punctuates a landmark year of action because of the first World Humanitarian Summit that was held in Istanbul, Turkey, on May 23-24.  Indeed the selected theme, One Humanity, echoes the Secretary General's report One Humanity: Shared responsibility, (Feb. 2009), calling for the world to come together at the Summit to take action that bridges all the divides.

Today also, the UN-WHO has launched the Humanitarian Impossible Choices social media campaign to raise consciousness in regards the sorts of crises situations that exist.

Here are a few humanitarian facts and figures used to inform the Impossible Choices humanitarian campaign :
  •        In 2014, 80% of landmine casualties were civilian
  •        92% of people killed or injured by explosive weapons in populated areas are civilians.
  •        El Nino has affected more than 62 m people, including about 32 million is Southern African.
  •        The average length of displacement due to civil strife is 17 years
  •       More than 26 million people have been displaced due to disasters arising from natural causes since 2009.
  •        In Yemen, 14 million people do not have access to clean water.
  •        60% of maternal deaths take place in humanitarian crises areas.
  •        75 million women and children are caught in the crises.
Agenda for Humanity -  One Humanity: Shared responsibility – Report of the UN Secretary General for the World Humanitarian Summit (Feb. 2016)
UN – World Humanitarian Day
UN – OCCHA – Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Aid
UN - WHO Impossible choices humanitarian campaign

Monday, August 15, 2016

Espadrille Day!

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

If you are trekking  Europe this summer, you might want to stop in the Basque Country, on the French side of the Pyrénées Mountains….

 At Mauléon, capital city of the Soule region, today, Aug. 15th. is Espadrille Day! A small workshop is  making espadrilles, right in the center of Place des Allées!

NB. The two languages on the celebration poster are French and Basque (euskara), the oldest documented language of Western Europe. Red (Pantone 485C) is one of the two colors of the Basque flag called Ikurriña.
Portail de la Soule 

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Oh, patents! Elissabide’s espadrille improvements (1)

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

Elissabide was granted many patented improvements to the espadrille, already considered -- in 1930 -- a comfortable soft-cloth alternative to leather shoes, and a Basque country flagship product.

Improvement to the espadrille, disclosed in the French patent FR725017consists in manufacturing the espadrille upper, as a single piece of cloth, compared to the prior art manufacture  of espadrille uppers in two pieces.

The single-piece upper, stitched together behind the user’s heel, resolves the prior art issues of espadrille stress when two seams brought together the vamp and the heel portions, midfoot. The single heel seam is additionally purported to offer more shape to the heel portion.

Figure drawings extracted from FR725017 are included. A modern espadrille manufactured with a single piece upper is also included.


And, just in case you are wondering… Yes, improvements also count as inventions, as long as they satisfy conditions of patentability! 

Monday, August 8, 2016

Oh, patents! Elisabide's hair curler (bigoudi)

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

Elissabide’s hair curler invention, disclosed in FR1398167 was designed for children’s locks!

These curlers comprise a flexible brass wire. The brass wire is coated in plastic, and then cut into strips, the ends of which are capped ornamentally. 

The scope of the invention extends to all sorts of flexible wire and plastic materials for coating, as well as varying sorts of ornamental caps at both ends of the curler.

As for the term "bigoudi", the CNRS - CNRTL etymological research tracks it to the French terms "bigotère - elle" borrowed from the Spanish term "bigote", meaning "moustache" (as early as the 1600s), used in reference to a small cylindrical strip for curling a moustache. The term "bigoudi" also exists during the 19th century in reference to hair curlers, where the metal strip was covered with leather.... 

Below, a modern-day embodiment of Elissabide's 1965 bigoudi! 

CNRS - CNRTL - Centre National de Recherches Textuelles et Lexicales

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Oh, patents! JRB Elissabide superstar!

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann 

Jean René Benjamin Elissabide, inventor of the Pataugas “pâte-au-gaz” (rubber paste) hiking boots with waterproof soles, in fact, was a surprisingly prolific inventor and serial entrepreneur!

More than 60 patents were filed under RJB Elissabide’s name, not only in connection with the manufacture of shoes and shoe materials, in particular using rubber and for the region's famous "espadrilles", but also processes for covering fabric with latex, the manufacture of soap called "Le Devoir" ("Duty") during WWII, and even a hair curler (bigoudi) patent! 

Beyond the inventions their manufacture and marketing, Elissabide’s entrepreneurial activities also extended to the production of socks using local Pyréneés wool, ownership of a regional newspaper called Le Miroir de la Soule, as well as the production of an alcoholic beverage called La Retap!

Below, a list of the René Jean Benjamin Elissabide patents, including US and British utulity patents:

FR566264 (A)  1924-02-12 - Procédé de fabrication de la trépointe à espadrille sous forme de couronnes immédiatement applicables autour de la semelle
FR591303 (A)  1925-07-02 - Procédé de commande de l'arrivée d'essence par le levier de commande des gaz du carburateur
FR608269 (A) ― 1926-07-23 - Fabrication de tapis et autres objets en tresse à espadrille
FR626306 (A)  1927-09-03 - Tresse asymétrique pour l'espadrille
FR641386 ― 1928-08-02 - Perfectionnement apporté dans la fabircation des espadrilles
FR645248 (A)  1928-10-22 -Procédé de fabrication de la semelle d'espadrille
FR647666 (A)  1928-11-27 - Procédé d'emballage de l'espadrille
FR653725 (A)  1929-03-26 - Casier-classeur pour la vente de l'espadrille
FR658371 (A)  1929-06-04 - Espadrille à semelle mixte
FR659324 (A)  1929-06-27 - Tresse rapide pour l'espadrille
FR702403  1931-04-08 - Perfectionnement apporté à la fabrication des sandales
FR706304  1931-06-23 - Procédé de fabrication des chaussons et articles similaires
FR706305  1931-06-23 - Semelles premières boutonnées et leur procédé de fabrication
FR709305  1931-08-05 - Perfectionnements à la fabrication des sandales
FR713681 ― 1931-10-31 - Procédé pour la pose d'éléments de garniture sur les sandales et analogues et produits en résultant
FR715597  1931-12-05 - Procédé de fabrication de feuilles de liège et caoutchouc agglomérés
FR716962 1931-12-30- Perfectionnement apporté à la confection des sandales et analogues
FR720295 (A)  1932-02-17 - Procédé de fabrication de semelles en caoutchouc

FR39820 (E) ― 1932-03-18 - Perfectionnements à la fabrication des sandales
FR39821 (E)  1932-03-18 - Semelles premières boutonnées et leur procédé de fabrication
FR723239 ― 1932-04-05  - Procédé d'ornementation à chaud des plaquages posés par vulcanisation sur des tiges de chaussures et articles similaires
FR725017 ― 1932-05-06 -  Perfectionnement apporté à la confection des sandales ou espadrilles
FR725018  1932-05-06  - Procédé de renforcement des sandales de toile par application d'un revêtement plastique, et produits en résultant
FR726368  1932-05-27-  Procédé de claquage des chaussures de feutre dites "charentaises" par application d'un revêtement plastique, et produits en résultant
FR40263 (E)  1932-06-08  - Procédé pour la pose d'éléments de garniture sur les sandales et analogues et produits en résultant
FR40727 (E)  1932-08-22 - Procédé de fabrication de semelles en caoutchouc
FR40821 (E)  1932-09-07 - Perfectionnement apporté à la confection des sandales et analogues
FR736146  1932-11-19 - Procédé de fabrication d'une tresse asymétrique caoutchoutée pour semelles d'espadrilles, et application de cette tresse à l'obtention de semelles sans couture
FR740473   1933-01-26 - Procédé de fabrication de sandale à semelle sans couture et produits industriels en résultant
FR779035 (A)  1935-03-28 - Chaussure perfectionnée
FR835093 (A)  1938-12-12 - Perfectionnement apporté à la fabrication des espadrilles
FR842625 (A)  1939-06-15 - Perfectionnement apporté aux espadrilles
FR844313 (A) 1939-07-24 - Perfectionnement apporté à la fabrication des espadrilles
FR848397 (A)  1939-10-27 - Perfectionnement apporté à la fabrication des sabots en caoutchouc
FR853164 (A)  1940-03-12 - Sandale à semelle de corde munie d'un talon interne et son 
procédé de fixation FR856028 (A) ― 1940-05-25 - Talon compensateur à largeur réglable
FR897117 (A) ― 1945-03-13 - Lubrifiant auto-décrassant pour les moules de fonderie et de céramique

FR904394 ― 1945-11-05 - Perfectionnement apporté à la fabrication des espadrilles en fibres dures 
FR909321 (A) ― 1946-05-06 - Perfectionnement apporté à la fabrication des savons

FR922090 (A) ― 1947-05-28 - Procédé de fabrication de savons spéciaux
FR952615 (A) ― 1949-11-21 - Conditionnement spécial de savons et détersifs 
FR953358 (A) ― 1949-12-05 - Conditionnement spécial de produits saponifiants 
GB643493 (A) ― 1950-09-20 - Improvements in the manufacture of soaps [English version of FR922090]

FR960864 (A) ― 1950-04-27 - Traitement des tissus
FR972184 (A) ― 1951-01-26 - Semelle de corde à épaisseur constante
FR974501 (A) ― 1951-02-23 - Nouveaux articles en coton imprégné de latex
FR1000053 (A) ― 1952-02-07 - Semelle-cuvette à deux étages 
US2603612 (A) ― 1952-07-15 - Fabric treating thermoplastic resin-rosin composition (English version of FR960864)
FR1027329 (A) ― 1953-05-11 - Procédé de vulcanisation par moule universel 
FR1031528 (A) ― 1953-06-24 - Nouveau matériau et son application à la fabrication des chaussures
FR1052534 (A) ― 1954-01-25 - Bande de protection pour la chaussure
FR1058128 (A) ― 1954-03-15 - Procédé de vulcanisation de la chaussure 
FR1062345 (A) ― 1954-04-21 - Chaussure à semelle remontante 
FR1065050 (A) ― 1954-05-19 - Saupoudroir rectiligne
FR1075647 (A) ― 1954-10-19 - Vulcanisation sans bavures de chaussures en caoutchouc 
FR1086185 (A) ― 1955-02-10 - Procédé de fabrication d'un brodequin étanche
FR1100107 (A) ― 1955-09-16 - Traitement mécanique des surfaces en caoutchouc
FR66950 (E) 1957-10-31 Traitement mécanique des surfaces en caoutchouc
FR1141025 (A) ― 1957-08-26 - Perfectionnement apporté aux bottes larges
FR1143484 (A) ― 1957-10-01 - Porte-étiquette hermétique pour l'arboriculture   
FR1254443 (A)  1961-02-24 - Fil plastique indénouable pour l’horticulture
FR12688557 (A)  1961-08-04 - Ecrans pour l’ameublement
FR1274964 (A)  1961-11-03 - Tige de mocassin d’une seule pièce
FR12806999(A)   1962-01-08 - Perfectionnement apporté aux bottes de cheval
FR1300896 (A)  1962-08-10) - Fixation par sous-pied d’une empeigne à sa semelle
FR1284482 (A)  1962-08-09 - Chaussure à semelle rivetée
FR1311055 (A)   1962-11-30 - Procédé de fabrication perfectionné de nu-pieds et produits en résultant
FR1333023 (A) ― 1963-07-19 - Plastron de mocassin formant museau 
FR1432132  (A) ― 1966-03-18 - Chaussure à semelle unique
FR1398167  (A) ― 1965-05-07 – Bigoudi
FR1444218  (A) ― 1966-07-01 - Perfectionnement au conditionnement des cigarettes 
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