Friday, June 30, 2017

Oh, patents! Christofle

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

Christofle paperweight 
silver plated with glass
Christofle, the famous French silversmith, purveyor of emperors, kings, sultans, parliaments, embassies, ministries, luxury ocean liners, the Orient Express and Air France’s Concorde, was founded by Charles Christofle, in 1830, in Paris.

Interestingly enough, Christofle’s history of silversmithing is intricately linked to patented innovations that the company both purchased and filed. Trained as a goldsmith jewelry maker, Charles Christofle filed hallmarks for both master-jewelry in 1830, and silversmithing in 1845. The company he founded purchased electroplating patents enabling both gold and silver plating of objects on an industrial level. Thus, the firm transitioned from jewelry-making to gold and silversmithing of objects both small and monumental, while still retaining the jewelry activity.

During the course of the 20th century the company filed its own patents covering various sorts of serving utensils and improvements thereof, storage for silverware, silver polishing processes, various fabrication and plating processes. And most recently, in the year 2000, a nanotechnology applied to solid silver or silver plated objects, in view of delaying tarnishing or oxidation of silver. Thus, Christofle continues to innovate, having fairly recently provided a more permanent solution to all the prior art of silver polishing. 

Finally, the company also has a tradition of working in partnership with famous designers such as Ora-Ito and Andrée Putman, in the most recent years.     

The following is a hyperlinked list of some of the vintage Christofle patents, including both design and utility patents, retrieved at the INPI, USPTO and EPO.

USD509997 (S) Handle for flatware – 2005-09-27
USD512267 (S) Handle for flatware – 2005-12-06
USD509997S1 - Handle for flatware – 2003-09-17
FR2790011A1  - Recipient pour la désoxydation de l'argenterie et moyens associés – 2000-08-25
WO9919541A1 - Recipient pour la désoxydation de l'argenterie et moyens associés –  1999-04-22
FR2581295A1 - Bague perfectionnée – 1986 -11-07
FR2534840A1 - Machine automatique pour le polissage de pieces d'orfevrerie, notamment de couverts – 1984-04-27
FR2338669A1 - Eléments de rangement pour couverts de table – 1977-08-19
FR2167305A7 - Récipient muni d’un couvercle – 1973-08-24
FR1178940A - Couverts de table présentés sous emballage en plaques de matière plastique – 1959-05-19
FR1051330A - Procédé et produit pour réaliser simultanément le nettoyage et la protection des surfaces métalliques, et possédant un potentiel positif par rapport à l’électrode d’hydrogène – 1954-01-14
FR1038054A  - Procédé et produit pour réaliser en une seule opération l'astiquage et la protection des surfaces argentiques – 1953-09-24
FR1039328A - Procédé et bain pour réaliser le dégraissage et la protection des pièces d'argenterie neuves – 1953-09-24
FR986678A - Procédé de brasage au four – 1951-08-03
FR986123A - Dispositif de sécurité pour polissoir – 1951-07-27
FR785892A  - Perfectionnements aux anses et poignées de recipients – 1935-08-21
FR748063A - Disque porte-monogrammes – 1933-06-28
FR712505A - Procédé et localisation de dépôts électrolytiques de métaux – 1931-10-03
GB301417 (A) – Process for the manufacture – 1929-12-05
FR657572A - Procédé de fabrication de pièces métalliques tubulaires fermées à une extrémité et galbées ou ornementées sans soudure – 1929-05-24
FR595339A - Fabrication des couverts en métal – 1925-09-30
FR463236A - Obturateur-verseur pour matières pulvérulentes à débit variable et à réglage rapide – 1914-02-17
FR423253A - Procédé essentiellement économique et rapide de nettoyage d'objets métalliques par l'hydrogène à l'état naissant obtenu instantanément et économiquement – 1911-04-12
GB190930497 - Improved utensil for serving food – 1910-05-05
FR399062A - Couverts à servir à branches démontables instantanément, avec emplacements pour les doigts, empechant le glissement de l'instrument dans le plat – 1909-06-21
FR320276A - Nouvelle douille-support pour candélabres permettant, à volonté, l'utilisation de lampes à incandescence électrique, de bougies, lampes quelconques, etc. – 1902-12-06

Les poinçons d’orfevrerie
Wikipedia - Christofle

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Oh, patents! Twitter

Copyright @ Françoise Herrmann 

You might suppose that it is twittering with 140 characters max on the Twitter communication platform that distinguishes Twitter from all other communication systems, and thus consists of the Twitter invention. After all, this is where the art of being succinct all began in the 21st century, plus much more, connected to reporting and world events. Nowhere else will you be coached so elegantly into 'getting to the point'!

But, things are not always so evident…! Indeed, we expect quite the opposite when it comes to research. It is precisely when findings are the most surprising that the research is interesting. And so it is with the family of patents disclosing the Twitter invention, titled Device independent message distribution platform, which describes a communication system enabling communication across all platforms, and even across carriers, used by senders and recipients.

Indeed, the Twitter invention was disclosed in a playing field where communication was only supported between similar sorts of devices, using similar sorts of messages. That is, existing platforms only supported communication from email to email, or cell phone SMS to SMS, with a few exceptions that were carrier-based where it was possible to send an SMS from a cell phone to an email account. Thus, the Twitter patents not only disclose an invention that makes it possible for users using different platforms to communicate, it also discloses a system that enables a message to be sent to several people all using different platforms, for example, for sending a message to a cell phone number, an email address and web-based message forum, and in turn, for the sender to receive messages from each of the recipients using different platforms, and message types! 

Thus, the 140-character tweet appears more the consequence of the Twitter invention, than the actual novel and inventive step for which patents were granted. The 140-character tweet is the common denominator, at the intersection of all message types, communication platforms and carriers. The tweet provides a new medium, at the tip of a resolved problematic situation with the prior art, through which all previous communication might also cycle more freely, and concisely!

US8401009, US9088532 and US9577966, titled Device independent message distribution platform, were granted to Jack Dorsey and Christopher Isaac Stone, respectively in 2013, 2015 and 2017.  One of the Abstracts of the Twitter invention is included below, as well as the beloved blue Twitter logo.
An example system for device-independent point to multipoint communication is configured to receive a message addressed to one or more destination users, the message type being, for example, Short Message Service (SMS), Instant Messaging (IM), E-mail, web form input, or Application Program Interface (API) function call. The system also is configured to determine information about the destination users, the information comprising preferred devices and interfaces for receiving messages, the information further including message receiving preferences. The system applies rules to the message based on destination user information to determine the message endpoints, the message endpoints being, for example, Short Message Service (SMS), Instant Messaging (IM), E-mail, web page output, or Application Program Interface (API) function call. The system translates the message based on the destination user information and message endpoints and transmits the message to each endpoint of the message. [US9577966]

Friday, June 23, 2017

Oh, patents! Arbor Informaticus

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

The eTree animation video included below shows the urban versatility of the eTree. 

Biomimetic (i.e.; inspired by nature), the eTree, in particular, resembles the acacia tree found in the African Savanna, Australian Bush or the Israeli desert.

The first eTree was unveiled in Paris, during the COP21 Climate Conference, in December 2015. The first European solar eTree prototype was planted in the town of Nevers, France, in May 2017. Other eTrees are planted around the world: in Bethlehem, Ramat Hanadiv and Tel Aviv, Israel,  and in the US, in California and North Carolina. [

Because of its versatility, the eTree is far more than just a clean energy-generating solar tree. It is an experience designed to raise consciousness about sustainability and renewable energies within the community.    

 Indeed, meet arbor informaticus!

Sol-Logic - The solar tree project
SolarGiving - The eTree
Gutierez, N. (May 31, 2017) Europe's first solar eTree in France converts sunlight to electricity and more, The Science Times
À Nevers le premier eTree d'Europe aux feuilles photovoltaîques, (29 mai 2017) Libération

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Oh, patents! The wind tree at Piazza Gae Aulenti

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

Piazza Gae Aulenti in Milan, Italy,  contains a stunning solar tree designed by Ross Lovegrove,  marketed by Artimedi, a picture of which is included below with the Artimedi catalog specifications.  

Artimedi North America
Artimedi Solar Tree - Product Data Sheet

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Oh, patents ! Solar and wind tree groves

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

Could solar panels installed on rooftops, and soaring wind turbines relegated to wind farms, already be obsolete? 

Quite possibly, according to the inventors of various solar, wind and/or solar-wind combination trees! Solar, wind and/or solar-wind combination trees are now marketed as an artistically pleasing, multifunctional and more efficient way of producing green (i.e; non-fossil fuel) energy, especially in urban areas, where space is limited.

Although wind turbines have undoubtedly existed for hundreds of years, considering the precedence of Dutch windmills, they also must operate hundreds of feet in the air to be efficient, using gigantic turbine blades, several feet wide. Thus, wind turbines are typically found in wind farms, in large open-air fields, or even offshore, far away from residential or business areas.  Similarly, the energy produced by solar panels is also still dependent on size and number of panels, with the additional, admittedly subjective disadvantage of being perceived as unsightly. Thus, solar panels are usually installed on rooftops where they ultimately compete for space with roof gardens!

In response to some of these pressing problems of the prior art, and the ever increasing need for green, clean and renewable energy sources in urban centers, the following are 
few solar, wind and/or solar-wind combination trees.

US20100289269 titled Solar wind tree, and US20140021723 titled Solar wind tree with optional wind turbine are US patent applications disclosing solar and wind trees. The solar collectors in these inventions are shaped and positioned in such a manner as to further direct wind streams to the wind turbines. In turn, the wind turbines rotate around the shaft (or tree trunk) as they collect wind energy. These solar and solar-wind combination trees appear somewhat evocative of Xmas trees, with the upper arms (or branches) of the tree designed shorter than the lower ones to prevent all shading effects. However, the scope of the invention extends well beyond the biomimetic aesthetics of pine trees, claiming the notion of « camouflage elements causing the support structure to resemble vegetation“. Thus, the tree appearance, in fact, serves to cover all the wiring and equipment above ground level, and in turn might vary, depending on the surroundings, while still remaining well within the scope of the invention. 

The abstract for US20140021723 is included below, as well as an image of the tree extracted from the patent:
An apparatus for generating electricity. The apparatus comprises a plurality of solar energy collectors for generating electricity from solar energy; a plurality of wind turbines for generating electricity from wind energy; a support structure having arms extending radially from a vertical shaft, the arms positioned at different vertical distances along the vertical shaft and the arms having decreasing lengths in a direction toward a top of the apparatus; solar energy collectors affixed to terminal ends of the arms and disposed at different vertical distances along the vertical shaft, the solar energy collectors shaped and oriented to direct wind streams striking the solar energy collectors toward the wind turbines; and each one of the plurality of wind turbines rotatably supported by the vertical shaft to rotate about the vertical shaft and disposed at different vertical distances along the vertical shaft.
WO2015198348 titled Solar Tree discloses the Indian solar and wind tree. in addition to solar panels, a wind turbine is described mounted on top of the tree. This invention thus also discloses a solar-wind combination tree. The novel aspect of this solar-wind tree lies in the mobility of the solar panels. A mechanism changes the angle of the solar panels' positions in order to maximize the amount of solar energy captured. This solar tree is also configured in such a manner that the upper solar panels do not obscure the lower panels of the tree.

The abstract for WO2015198348  is included below in between a figure drawing extracted from the patent, and a marketed embodiment of the solar tree showing the mobile panels.  
An apparatus designed for generating electrical power. This apparatus consists of solar panels having high quality of solar cells, with high efficiency for generating electricity from solar energy; a small cylindrical wind turbine at top for generating electricity from wind energy; a transparent pole to support solar panels and wind turbine; a charging dock placed on the supporting base for public to use electricity to charge their electronic gadgets and a square base at bottom to support the entire machinery. The solar panels are circular in shape with reducing radius from bottom to top in form of an inverted cone having ability to rotate themselves according to the sunlight falling on them; and placed at different vertical distances along the supporting pole. This apparatus generates higher amount of electricity for same unit of solar panels per area.
The French, multiple award-winning, Arbre à vent® (wind tree)  is disclosed in a family of 7 patents: EP2825770, FR2988144, WO2013136142, US2015108762, KR20150015438, JP2015511675 and CN104471240, each with the same title Aerogenerator comprising a trunk and a plurality of branches extending from this trunk, or translations thereof. This invention was previously discussed extensively in this blog (see references below). The Arbre à vent® invention comprises no solar collectors, only wind turbines, each individually enclosed in the patented “leaves” of the wind tree, and each positioned in a patented way so as to capture even the slightest stream of wind. Beyond the generation of clean and renewable energy, the design of the tree is also motivated by an explicit concern for bird habitats which suffer many casualties resulting from contact with the exposed blades of existing wind turbines. L’Arbre à vent® is also termed biomimetic, as it is designed to resemble nature, and in particular, it is styled as a chestnut or oak tree!

  The Abstract for US2015108762 is included, in between a drawing of the patented bladeless wind turbine leaf, and its marketed embodiment.
The invention relates to an aerogenerator comprising a trunk and a plurality of branches extending from this trunk, characterized in that it comprises: a plurality of turbines distributed over the various branches, each turbine having a vertical axis of rotation; and an electric generator mounted inside each turbine on the axis of rotation of said turbine. 


Sunday, June 18, 2017

Oh, patents! – Crystal Fountains at Gae Aulenti Piazza

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

The animated fountain plumes that dance around Piazza Gae Aulenti*, in the center of Milan, Italy, are patented!  These geyserlike fountains shoot water jets in the air during the day, and provide an attractive light show at night.

Indeed, these are Crystal Fountains, produced and manufactured by a Canadian company called Crystal Fountains that seriously specializes in interactive fountain systems. The company produces and programs stunning, commercial, institutional and residential water flow and display, coupled with LED color lighting and music. Arching jets, leapers, laminars, waterfalls, connected to LED lights and programmed in complex sequences using specialized nozzles for special flow effects, together provide dramatic and award-winning water and light experiences.  

The 2017 US patent application US2017014850 titled Articulated nozzle and water display system and method discloses the arching water jet technology. The novel articulated nozzle enables a bendable fluid flow path and to control the bendable fluid path both relative to itself and to other nozzles. The many different aspects of the invention include, for example, sensors for tracking nozzle movement, or connectors connecting the nozzle to at least three driving mechanisms, The driving mechanisms for position, velocity and acceleration of the fluid flow path, are respectively informed in part by the magnetometer, gyroscope and accelerometer sensor readings.  The invention also claims the method for displaying the countless bendable fluid paths, seen in spectacular shows.

The Abstract of the invention is included below with one of the patent nozzle drawings.
A system and method for producing a fluid display are provided. The method and system involve providing a bendable fluid flow path, the bendable fluid flow path i) having a central axis, ii) being bendable such that the central axis is bendable to define curves in non-parallel planes at different portions along a bendable portion of the bendable fluid flow path, and iii) having an upstream end and a downstream end. Fluid from the downstream end of the bendable fluid flow path can be provided to a nozzle from which the fluid flow can exit in a fluid flow path direction.

Gae Aulenti Archives
Crystal Fountains 
Cesar Pelli

*NB. Piazza Gae Aulenti was built by Cesar Pelli, an Argentine architect and dedicated to Gae Aulenti

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Oh, patents! Gae Aulenti

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann
Questions: Who redesigned the Old Main Library in San Francisco, transforming it from the inside out into the New Asian Art Museum? Who transformed the old Paris Orsay train station into a fabulous museum of contemporary art ? 
Answer: None other than Gae Aulenti, a famous Italian architect, and designer.
Gae Aulenti [1927-1912] also designed furniture. In 1974 she was awarded the US design patent USD232655S for a table lamp. A picture of the patent drawings and of a marketed embodiment are included below.

As a reminder the difference between a design and a utility patent is the following:
“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)” (USPTO)
Aisan Art Museum in San Francisco
Musée d'Orsay in Paris, France

Friday, June 16, 2017

Oh, patents! Snapshots of the 2017 EPO awards ceremony

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann
Here are a few special moments expertly culled from the 2017 EPO Awards ceremony!

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Oh, patents! The 2017 EPO award winners

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

The 2017 winners of the EPO awards in six categories were announced this day in Venice, Italy, on the occasion of a grand celebration and event.

Industry category
Jan van den Boogaart and Oliver Hayden (Netherland and Austria), inventors of rapid malaria blood testing, an invention disclosed in:
  •  EP2635695 (A1) ― 2013-09-11  titled Method for detecting a plasmodium infection.
Research category
Laurent Lestarquit, José Ángel Ávila Rodríguez and team (France and Spain), inventors of better radio signals for satellite navigation, an invention disclosed in:
  • EP1570287 (B1) ― 2006-05-03 - Method and device for generating a constant envelope navigation signal with four independent codes
  • EP1836778 (B1) ― 2009-08-05 - Spread spectrum signal
Small and medium enterprise category
Günter Hufschmid (Germany), inventor of a super sponge for oil spills, an invention disclosed in: 
  • EP2392630 (B1) ― 2015-12-02  - Spray products from polymers (hydrocarbons) in the form of a fibrously matted polymer wool, production as well as their use as an oil binding agent and chemical binding agent, as adsorption products for oils, oil rubbish and other hydrophobic liquids to the cleaning of water, rivers, lakes and seas, sand or earth 
Non-EPO country category
James G. Fujimoto, Eric A. Swanson and Robert Huber (USA, Japan), inventors of medical imaging with optical coherence tomography (OCT), disclosed in:
  • EP0883793 (B1) ― 2007-11-14 - Method and apparatus for performing optical measurements using a fiber optic imaging guidewire, catheter or endoscope
  • EP0981733 (B1) ― 2004-02-11 - Grating based phase control optical delay line
  • EP1839375 (B1) ― 2014-06-04 - Mode locking methods and apparatus
Life-time achievement category
Rino Rappuoli (Italy), inventor of next-generation vaccines against meningitis, whooping cough and other infections, an invention disclosed in many patents, including though not limited to:
  • EP0322533 (A1) ― 1989-07-05 - Bordetella pertussis toxin with altered toxicity
  • EP0232229 (A2) ― 1987-08-12 - Cloning and expression of Bordetella pertussis toxin-encoding DNA
  • EP1223975 (A2) ― 2002-07-24 - Mucosal dtpa vaccines
Popular vote category
Adnane Remmal (Morocco), inventor of a way to boost the efficacy of antibiotics with essential oils, an invention disclosed in:
  • EP1879655 (B1) ― 2014-11-26 - Pharmaceutical composition comprising an anti-bacterial agent and an active ingredient selected from carveol, carvacrol, alpha-ionone, beta-ionone, and thymol   
Congratulations to all!

Friday, June 9, 2017

Oh, patents! Crayola®

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

2017 Crayola® crayons
Are your kids using some of the 200 different colored Crayola® crayons? Did you, your parents or even your grandparents use at least some of these combination- “chalk-and-wax” coloring crayons?

Indeed, the first Crayola®  crayons were produced in 1903!

The children’s crayon company, Crayola LLC, a subsidiary of Hallmark Cards since 1984, began in 1885 as the Binney & Smith Company. 

The Binney & Smith Company specialized in industrial pigment supply, and in particular the manufacture of charcoal black using a patented process.

The Binney & Smith patented process for producing charcoal black, one of the oldest pigments in history, was disclosed in 1891, in US453140, titled APPARATUS FOR THE MANUFACTURE 0F CARBON BLACK

The newly patented process brought sweeping changes to the previous art which consisted in burning oil lamps in specially-built and closed-off buildings. After burning the lamp oil which gave off black “soot” fumes, the buildings were then left to cool, before recruiting workers to scrape the deposited “lamp-black” off the walls.

US453140 - Crosssection of chamber with scrapers
In contrast, the Binney & Smith invention for producing charcoal black pigment disclosed an automated process. This novel process comprised an apparatus, with a circular depositing chamber (Fig. 2 above).  All the carboniferous fumes could thus be directed for deposit on the walls of the chamber where scrapers subsequently collected the lamp-black from the walls of the chamber. In turn, the scrapings were collected on a conveyor belt. 

Thus, the Binney & Smith invention bypassed all the problems of the prior art in terms of labor costs, lost pigment to the building walls, and downtime for the building to cool, not to mention the hazards of entering a building with oil lamp fumes and inhaling soot particles …

Beyond this new process for producing charcoal black, Binney & Smith also found a way of manufacturing dustless chalk, for which they were awarded a gold medal at the 1904 World Fair in St. Louis.

1903 Binney & Smith Co. Crayola
In 1903, bringing together what had been discovered for the production of pigmented products, dustless chalk and colored wax markers for industrial purposes, the first boxes of 8 Binney & Smith crayons were produced, with added safety, for children.  

Crayola® Company lore has on record that the term “Crayola” arose from the merging of two French words: “craie” meaning “chalk”, and “ol(a)” a prefix meaning “oil”, since the crayons are made from a combination of petroleum-based wax and chalk.  As for the crayon colors, they grew in multiples of 8 from 1905 to the present day 200-color spectrum. An exponential leap in colors occurred in 1926, when the Munsell Color Company’s line of crayon colors was acquired by the Binney & Smith Company.

On March 31, 2017, National Crayon Day in the US, Crayola® announced early retirement of the Dandelion yellow color!

Although Crayola® now produces many different sorts of coloring instruments for children, these little chalk+wax combination coloring tools  have endured, and evidently, continue to delight

1904  World Fair
Crayola LLC
History of Crayola® crayons
National Day Calendar - March 31 - National Crayon Day

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Oh, patents! B . Zero1 redesigned by Zaha Hadid

Copyright @ Françoise Herrmann

At the turn of the 21st century, the famous Italian jeweler Bulgari launched a new line of jewelry called B. Zero1. The design was inspired by the architecture of the Great Coliseum in Rome, in combination with the modern bold lines of Bulgari design.

The US design patent USD630964 was awarded for the B. Zero1 design. The patent figure drawings are included with an image of one of the marketed embodiments.


The B.Zero1 design was then re-interpreted by Zaha Hadid, who changed the face of architecture with her space bending curves. The video below illustrates how Zaha Hadid changed the B. Zero1 design.

NB. The name «  Bulgari »  trademarked BVLGARI using the Latin alphabet, means »  Bulgarians » in Italian, even though the founder Sotir Boulgaris was Greek !