Monday, January 30, 2017

Amendment to the WTO-TRIPS Agreement finally effective on Jan 23, 2017

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

On Dec, 8 2005, an amendment to the WTO TRIPS Agreement (World Trade Organization - Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) was voted by all of the members of the WTO (World Trade Organization). This amendment called for safeguards and measures to ensure legal pathways for access to generic versions of patented drugs in poorer nations via compulsory licensing agreements. Compulsory licensing occurs when a court orders the production or distribution of patented drugs at specific prices, without the patent holder’s permission. However, for the amendment to come into full force within the TRIPS agreement, a 2/3 majority of the 164 members of the WTO have to ratify the amendment in their own countries. 

Recent ratification of the 2005 amendment by Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Liechtenstein, the United Arab Emirates and Viet Nam, finally created the much delayed and needed 2/3 majority. Thus, the amendment to the TRIPS agreement finally became effective on January 23, 2017 -- 12 years after it was voted (WTO News - Jan 23, 2017).

This news is heartening -- even if 12 years is far too long to wait for the victims of such diseases as AIDS, TB, malaria and other sorts of curable afflictions and epidemics.  

The amendment to the TRIPS Agreement now includes provisions for the import and export of patented medicine under compulsory licensing agreements to all poor countries with limited or no local production capacities. Compulsory licensing had always been possible under the TRIPS agreement (Part II, Section 5, Article 31), but the distribution of medicine under compulsory licensing could only occur in the local markets of the member states invoking the procedure, where the drugs were being produced.  This made it impossible for poor countries with limited or no production facilities to invoke compulsory licensing agreements, and consequently barred their access to needed medicines as well as any legal recourse to obtain access.

Now that the amendment is incorporated in the TRIPS Agreement, such compulsory licensing agreements are secured for poor countries, with limited or no production facilities, in order to facilitate access to medicine via third parties and the routes of imports and exports.  

News of this modification of the TRIPS agreement prides itself on putting the interest of public health before the interests of patented medicine. Indeed, this amendment is seen as an alignment with the 19th-century concerns for the risks of patented medicine.  Medicine actually only became patentable in the 1960s and 70s, precisely because it was feared that the monopolies created by patents would drive the price of medicine to the point of being prohibitive, and thus create unequal access to health. It turns out that the 19th-century fears of unequal access to essential medicines, and consequently to health, have already largely played out, exactly as anticipated.  So, any step that restores a measure of greater fairness in access to medicines is a success – however incomplete.

Incidentally, in the aftermath of the US 9/11 events and the fear of anthrax biological warfare, the United States DHHS (Department of Health and Human Services) negotiated the purchase of a supply of 100 million tablets of Ciprofloxacin antibiotics, at a reduced price of .95 cts per tablet, under compulsory licensing agreement, from the Bayer Corporation (DHHS  press release, 2001). This purchase was designed to supplement the nation’s existing emergency reserves of antibiotics. The agreement also included further price cuts in case subsequent 100 million-tablet supplies were needed.

Amendment to the TRIPS Agreement (Dec. 8, 2005)
HHS, Bayer agree to Cipro purchase (Press release)
Cipro compulsory licensing dispute
TRIPS - Trade-related aspects of IP rights
WTO IP rules amended to ease poor countries’ access to affordable medicines

Friday, January 27, 2017

USPTO kids!

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

Got kids? Got teens? You, a parent or a teacher? 

You are welcome to the USPTO Kids website where you will find lots of activities to inspire you, freebies to download, and videos to see!
Visit and enjoy!

USPTO - KIDS - Collective cards 
USPTO - KIDS - Downloads 
USPTO - KIDS - Videos
USPTO- KIDS - Activities
Camp Invention 
Energy KIDZ
NASA Kids Club
Smithsonian Kids
Maker Education Initiative

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Toyota's MOI (Mothers of Invention)

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

Not all women inventors are patented – both historically and to date, even if the very first US Patent Act (1790) explicitly included women inventors in the provisions of the law with the use of the pronoun “she”. And not all inventions are patentable according to the rules of patentability, in particular software.  This leaves many inventions unprotected, but no less thriving.

Toyota’s MOI (Mothers of Invention) awards, in collaboration with the Women in the World network since 2012, are dedicated to recognizing women inventors. Interestingly, this recognition is extended to both women inventors of physical objects and to women inventors of an organization which has an impact on making change for social good.

MOI Grand Award winners receive grants, and a free trip to the Women in the World summit event, where they receive both publicity and the opportunity to become part of the powerful Women of the World network founded by the award-winning journalist, author and former Editor-in-Chief of Vanity Fair and The New Yorker – Tina Brown.

The Women of the World network includes, for example, such participants and agents of change as : Meryl Streep, Angelina Jolie, Oprah Winfrey, Christine Lagarde, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Madeleine K. Albright, President Bill Clinton, Condoleezza Rice, Sheryl Sandberg, Sunitha Krishnan, Diane Von Furstenberg, Melinda Gates, Robi Damelin, Nobel Peace Prize laureates Leymah Gbowee and Tawakkol Karman, Dalia Ziada, HRH Queen Rania of Jordan, Nancy Pelosi, Alaa Murabit, Gloria Steinem, Zainab Salbi, Christiane Amanpour, Tzipi Livni, Susan Rice, Samantha Power, and Sister Rosemary Nyirumbe.
The women founders of the following amazingly vibrant organizations were named and rewarded MOI - Mothers of Invention by Toyota Corporation, in collaboration with Women in the World :

  • Well aware – A non-profit founded by Sarah Evans, dedicated to providing clean water systems in East Africa.
  • Lava Mae – A non-profit, San Francisco-based organization, founded by Doniece Sandoval, which brings “pop-up care” to homeless populations. The organization transformed public transportation buses into public showers and toilets on wheels, restoring hygiene and dignity, one shower at a time.
  • ClickMedix – Founder and CEO Ting Shih, this organization designs a Global Mobile mhealth platform, developed at MIT and Carnegie Mellon universities, to extend the range of available healthcare services to patients worldwide.
  • DC Greens – Co-founded by Lauren Shweder Biel and Sarah Holway, this organization supports food access, food policy and food education in the nation’s capital, bringing together businesses, schools, government and farmers in various partnerships.
  • LuminAid – Co-founded by architects Anna Stork and Andrea Sreshta, who designed a Solar powered light to assist with relief efforts in Haiti, in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake. The solar Aid light has since been used in 70 countries and for many various post-disaster relief efforts.
  • English @ work, acquired in 2014 by the Literacy Coalition of Central Texas– founded by Meg Poag, the organization sends paid English instructors to workplaces in Central Texas providing English lessons to motivated people.
  • Copia –  Founded by Komal Ahmad, this organization has a mission to end food waste and stop hunger.  The organization uses a platform that matches those who give food with those who receive food, using food angel drivers as go-betweens.
  • DreamWakers – Co-founded by Monica Gray and Anne Medaglia, this organization, based in NYC,  uses technology to connect career professionals with schools -- to sparks dreams.
  • Specs4us – Founded by Maria Dellapina, SPECS4US stands for “Superior Precision Eyewear for Children who are Special”. Accordingly, the company designs “Erin’s World Frames” specifically designed for children and adults with Down’s syndrome and other disabilities -- so that glasses no longer slip off!
  • Cardborigami – Founded by Tina Hosvepian, this organization designs easy pop-up shelter solutions in disaster-response situations, using origami looking insulated cardboard structures, that are presumably also water resistant!
  • – Founded by O’Neil sisters, Morgan and Caitria, this organization links volunteers to communities facing disasters, offering up-to-the-minute social media updates, and recording all donations, however random.
Save the date! 👠 The Women in the World Summit 2017 is to be held this year in NYC, April 5-7. 

MOI Nomination form
2016 Toyota MOI awardees
Tina Brown

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Oh, patents! Femasys (2)

Copyright ©  Françoise Herrmann


Patents awarded To Kathy Lee Sepsick for the Femasys inventions are both design and utility. 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) [MPEP Chapt. 1502.01; [R-07.2015]]. 

An impressive hyperlinked list of patents awarded to Kathy Lee Sepsick is included below.

US2016346008 (A1) ― 2016-12-01 - Methods and devices for conduit occlusion
CN105377148 (A) ― 2016-03-02 - Methods and devices for endometrial cell and tissue sampling
HK1207956 (A1) ― 2016-02-19 - Methods and devices for cervical cell and tissue sampling
USD740411 (S) ― 2015-10-06 - Device for pressure control 
US2015068531 (A1) ― 2015-03-12 - Methods and devices for conduit occlusion
USD714436 (S) ― 2014-09-30 - Device for delivering materials 
USD709184 (S) ― 2014-07-15 - Device for mixing fluids
KR20130142149 (A) ― 2013-12-27 - Methods and devices for sonographic imaging
US2014024934 (A1) ― 2014-01-23 - Methods and devices for delivering to conduit 
CA148113 (S) ― 2013-12-24 - Medical device for sampling tissue
CA146869 (S) ― 2013-10-24 - Medical device for mixing fluids 
US2013225977 (A1) ― 2013-08-29 - Methods and Devices for Delivery of Compositions to Conduits 
CA2817330 (A1) ― 2012-05-18 - Methods and devices for managing fluid pressure
USD672456 (S) ― 2012-12-11 - Device for mixing fluids 
USD660957 (S) ― 2012-05-29 - Device for mixing fluids 
CA2770504 (A1) ― 2010-04-08 - Contrast medium device for sonographic imaging
USD654583 (S) ― 2012-02-21 - Device for delivering materials
USD653329 (S) ― 2012-01-31 - Device for relieving fluid pressure
EP2991559 – 09-03-2016 Methods and devices for endometrial cell and tissue sampling
US20150282839 - 08.10.2015 Methods and devices for conduit occlusion
US20150088032 - 26.03.2015 - Methods and Devices for Endometrial Cell and Tissue Sampling
WO/2014/179804 - 06.11.2014 - Methods and devices for endometrial cell and tissue sampling
CA2911243 - 06.11.2014 - Methods and devices for endometrial cell and tissue sampling
EP2790589 - 22.10.2014 - Methods and devices for cervical cell and tissue sampling
US20140039639 - 06.02.2014 - Methods and devices for conduit occlusion
EP2637580 - 18.09.2013 - Methods and devices for managing fluid pressure
EP2637569 - 18.09.2013 - Methods and devices for sonographic imaging
US20130220335 - 29.08.2013- Methods and Devices for Conduit Occlusion
US20130220334 - 29.08.2013 - Methods and devices for conduit occlusion
US20130158429 - 20.06.2013 - Methods and devices for cervical cell and tissue sampling
WO/2013/090807 - 20.06.2013 - Methods and devices for cervical cell and tissue sampling
CA2859403 - 20.06.2013 - Methods and devices for cervical cell and tissue sampling
JP2012101069 - 31.05.2012 - Method and device for sonographic imaging
WO/2012/064866 - 18.05.2012 - Methods and devices for sonographic imaging
WO/2012/064884 18.05.2012 - Methods and devices for managing fluid pressure
CA2817296 - 18.05.2012 - Methods and devices for sonographic imaging
US20120116217 - 10.05.2012 - Methods and Devices for Managing Fluid Pressure
US20120046260 - 23.02.2012 - Methods and devices for delivery of compositions to conduits
US20120042880 - 23.02.2012 - Methods and devices for conduit occlusion
US20120042879 - 23.02.2012 - Methods and devices for conduit occlusion
EP2367591 - 28.09.2011 - Contrast medium device for sonographic imaging
WO/2010/040046 - 08.04.2010 - Contrast medium device for sonographic imaging
US20090024108 - 22.01.2009 - Methods and devices for delivery of compositions to conduits
US20090024155 - 22.01.2009 - Methods and devices for conduit occlusion
CN1929799 - 14.03.2007- Methods and devices for conduit occlusion
EP1722732 - 22.11.2006 - Device for conduit occlusion
WO/2005/082299 - 09.09.2005- Methods and devices for conduit occlusion
CA2556747 - 09.09.2005- Methods and devices for conduit occlusion
US20050187561 - 25.08.2005­ - Methods and devices for conduit occlusion

Yeah!  👠

MPEP – Chapt. 1502-01 – Distinction between design and utility patent

Monday, January 23, 2017

Oh, patents! Femasys (1)

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

Another woman on fire!...

Kathy Lee Sepsick, President, CEO and Founder of a company called Femasys Inc., is an inventor, with at least 50 patents awarded. Femasys Inc. is a company “committed to transforming women’s healthcare worldwide by expanding options for women with innovative medical devices and next-generation advancements” (Femasys). Accordingly, the company has invented, developed, tested, and successfully marketed a series of products specifically targeting women’s reproductive health.

Femasys’ first flagship product is called FemVue. It is used in conjunction with SONOHsg (sonographic hysterosalpingography) procedures to assist with the evaluation of tubal patency and the condition of the uterus. The central innovation of the Femvue / SonoHsg system is that it offers an office procedure where the previous state of the art in Fluoroscopic Hsg and the gold standard Laparoscopic chromopertubation (LC) required hospitalization, surgery and very expensive equipment.

Another important aspect of this invention is that Femvue delivers a flow of saline solution and micro air bubbles to the uterus and Falopian tubes, instead of traditional and potentially allergenic contrast media and dyes. Thus, FemVue delivers a natural contrast solution consisting of micro air bubbles and saline solution to enhance visualization with sonography, for the purposes of detecting tubal obstructions and conditions of the uterus -- in an office setting, within the context of fertility or other sorts of reproductive health evaluations.

A saline solution with "tiny bubbles", used as a contrast agent to enhance visualization with sonography, sounds easy enough, although nothing is farther from the truth! That is to say, how do you produce small enough bubbles that will stay dispersed in a liquid, instead of coalescing into one larger bubble within the liquid? How do you keep  tiny (2 to 5 micron) bubbles stable long enough for them to actually reach their target location within the body where they can support visualization of an organ cavity or duct?  Coalescence and stability of the microbubbles, without the use of stabilizers or other surfactants, in addition to costs and availability of the system, are some of the issues addressed in just one of the approximately 50 patents connected to this system, and others under development at FemaSys.

US US2010086492 titled Methods and devices for sonographic imaging, also published as WO2010040046 titled Contrast medium device for sonographic imaging, and CA2770504 titled Contrast medium for sonographic imaging, are the patents reciting the contrast media invention connected to the FemaVue device.

Below, the abstract for US US2010086492 titled Methods and devices for sonographic imaging, is included.  An image of the device generating the contrast media, extracted from the patent, and an image of the marketed embodiment are also included.
The present invention comprises methods and devices for providing contrast medium for sonography of structures such as ducts and cavities. The invention provides for creation of detectable acoustic variations between two generated phases of a gas and a liquid to make a contrast medium. Sonography is the primary means of imaging but other conventional detection means may also be employed with the present invention.


Femasys is also in the process of developing the FemBloc solution of permanent contraception. This is a female sterilization option involving Fallopian tube occlusion using a biopolymer. FemBloc is expected to be a safer option than traditional methods of tubal ligation, since it is an office procedure that requires no surgical intervention. FemBloc was cleared for clinical testing against traditional surgical methods of tubal ligation and is not yet commercially available.

Rhiana D. Saunders, M.D., James M. Shwayder, M.D., J.D., and Steven T. Nakajima, M.D (2011) Current methods of tubal patency assessment. Fertility and Sterility, 2011, 95:2171–79.

Caterina Exacoustos, MD., Errico Zupi, MD., Claudia Carusotti, MD., Giulio Lanzi, MD., Daniela Marconi, MD., and Domenico Arduini, M.D. (2003) Hysterosalpingo-Contrast Sonography Compared with Hysterosalpingography and Laparoscopic Dye Pertubation to Evaluate Tubal Patency. The Journal of the American Association of Gynecologic Laparoscopists. 2003;10(3):367-372.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Terminology – More 2016 ADS WOTTIES

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

The ADS (American Dialect Society) votes for WOTTIES  (Words of the Year) in several additional categories, including hashtags and emoji!

The line-up for 2016 looked like this:

·        Political word of the year
Post-truth referring to a time where beliefs and opinions count more than facts,  competing for example, against Pantsuit Nation referring to a Facebook group of Hillary Clinton supporters.  

·        Digital word of the year
@ meaning “reply” on Twitter, as in “atting”, “@ing”,  “@replying” or “@username”.

·        Slang word of the year
woke as in “being woke”, meaning socially aware or enlightened

·        Most useful / Most likely to succeed word of the year
gaslight (verb) meaning to psychologically manipulate a victim into thinking they are insane. (Origin in a 1938 play by Britsh playwright Patrick Hamilton titled Gas Light, and a 1944 big screen adaptation titled Gaslight).

·        Most creative word of the year
laissez-fairydust meaning magical effects of laissez-faire economics.

·        Euphemism of the year
locker-room banter referring to lewd and vulgar talk euphemizing discourse on harassment of, and aggression towards, women.

·        Hashtag of the Year
#NoDAPL: protest against construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline within the context of a conflict involving the preservation of sacred Native American Sioux land. 

    Emoji of the year

(fire) - meaning exciting or superlative.


ADS (American Dialect Society) 
Press release - American dialect Society: words of the Year
Wikipedia : Gas Light (1938)
    Wikipedia : Gaslight (1944 film)

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Terminology – The ADS WOTY 2016

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

At the 27th Annual Meeting of the American Dialect Society (ADS), on Jan 7, 2017, the term dumpster fire was voted WOTY (Word of the Year) 2016!

 The ADS defines dumpster fire as a metaphor for  “an exceedingly disastrous or chaotic situation”. The crowdsourced Urban Dictionary defines Dumpster fire as: 1. A complete disaster and, 2. Something very difficult that nobody wants to deal with”.

The term was selected by ADS linguists as best representing public discourse in 2016, with the term rising to prominence during the 2016 US presidential elections. 

Etymologically, the term “dumpster” arose as part of the tradename advertisement jingle Dempster-Dumpster, “applied to mechanically loaded refuse containers produced by the Dempster Brothers Company of Knoxville, Tennessee” in 1937! (Merriam-Webster).

Incidentally, Demspter Brothers, Inc., has 279 patents on record. The first Dempster Brothers Inc., patents were filed in 1941, and granted in Great Britain in 1942 (i.e.; GB547537 titled Transporting and dumping devices, GB547680 also titled Transporting and dumping devices, and GB549491 titled Transporting and dumping containers). 

The commercial success of the trash collection system then led to the inclusion of the term “dumpster” as a common and generic term in the dictionary.

In 2016, the term dumpster fire also flamed in social media as a pair of signifying emoji (imported below).

.Dumpster fire faced fierce competition in 2016, with such competing terms as the emoji fire icon alone, used as an all-purpose superlative; woke meaning socially aware or enlightened; and post-truth referring to “a time where facts matter less than beliefs and emotions”.(ADS)

ADS WOTY 2016 Press release
Locke, Ch. (01-10-17) How “dumpster fire” became 2016’s word of the year - WIRED 
The Urban Dictionary – Dumpster fire
Merriam-Webster - Dumspter