A Little Patent Wordplay

FedInvent Application Newsletter for September 9, 2021

Good Evening from FedInvent,

There are lots of novel patent applications this week.  Two hundred twelve (212) of the 7,610 patent applications published on Thursday benefitted from taxpayer funding.

You can read the FedInvent Patent Application Report and explore the Details Page that organized new patent applications by the Department that funded the research.  

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Here are the highlights from Thursday’s applications.

The Case of the Closure Member Stop — Read This Patent

An inventor can be their own lexicographer. That means an inventor can create a new word or words to describe an invention. At times, these new words can make patents hard to read at first. In 1873 Harper’s New Monthly Magazine explained this vocabulary conundrum when reporting on the telegraph.

"The difficulty of forming a clear conception of the subject is increased by the fact that while we have to deal with novel and strange facts, we have also to use old words in novel and inconsistent senses."

To explain how the inventors and their lexicography works in the real world, we drag this guy out, the kid with his bioluminescent novelty device. It works every time.

(Bubble Blower?  Bubble Maker? Bubble Solution with a Wand? Hide in plain sight patent applications?)

This week we had an inventor lexicography moment when we found this, 20210277699, "CLOSURE MEMBER STOP AND ASSOCIATED KIT." What is a closure member? What is a closure member stop?  A closure member is a term of art for part of a valve or someone who has to stay late at Starbucks to close up the store.

In this patent application, we learn that a closure member is, well, a door. From the application, we learn:

Many enclosures (e.g., safes, freezers, refrigerators, emergency shelters, etc.) include a closure member (e.g., a door) configured to allow access to an enclosed space, and then to be closed to provide a desired level of protection for items and/or entities within the enclosure. Closure members associated with such enclosures, due to their protective nature, are typically made of metal or other dense material, and are sturdy and frequently dangerously heavy.

When such a closure member closes unintentionally, due to, for example, gravity, lack of levelness, an unexpected force such as moving air (e.g., wind), and/or being bumped (e.g., by a person), etc., a person desiring to operate the closure member, or even simply in proximity to the closure member, can be surprised by the closure member coming into contact with the enclosure frame unexpectedly (e.g., slamming), and even injured during such an event by squeezing and/or crushing a body part, such as a finger, arm, or foot, between the closure member and the enclosure frame or opening. This is especially true for heavy closure members associated with protective enclosures.

For example, a Google search related to safe door accidents reveals that there have been numerous instances where a person has suffered severe injury when the door of a safe closed while the person had their fingers between the safe body and the door, compressing and squashing the fingers and breaking the finger bones, or in severe cases, severing a finger.

(Patent examiners have to read this stuff all the time.  We commend them.)

Allow us to translate.

Enclosures have doors. Doors open and close to provide access and to prevent access. Doors are made of solid materials to protect the content inside the enclosures. Solid doors designed to protect things can be very heavy. Sometimes doors unintentionally close. People can get hurt when this happens. Injuries occur when a door squishes body parts. Especially if you have your hand on the door jamb when the door slams, to solve this problem, you need a doorstop.

A closure member stop is a doorstop.  Patent application 20210277699 is a utility patent for a new doorstop.  

The July 13, 2021, FedInvent newsletter highlighted a new design patent for a doorstop from the US Postal Service (USPS).  This week the rest of the story revealed itself.  The new utility patent explains the makeup and composition of the doorstop and the kit that goes along with it.  

Google "closure member stop," and you’ll find information on valves.  You’ll also get entries on how the gym is closed due to COVID or that members need to stop at the desk to have their temperature taken and show their vaccination cards. 

In addition to the "closure member stop" patent application, the Postal Service had four more patent applications.  They include one for using robots to load and unload containers from vehicles (20210276800). A second is a system that uses machine learning or deep learning for automatically recognizing labels on items.  This invention also uses a robotic arm to assist in scanning the labels (20210280091).

The Postal Service has an impressive patent portfolio accumulating 496 patents since 1972.  You can explore their portfolio here.

The FedInvent favorite USPS  invention so far is the Informed Delivery patent with its 39 million users and counting.

You can see our growing list of other Patent Argot here.



Two heavy-lifting COVID-19 patent applications were published by USPTO this week, both with Vanderbilt University connections.

DARPA and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) funded the research that led to Application 20210277092, "Human Monoclonal Antibodies to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2)." Dr. James E. Crowe Jr of Vanderbilt University is the first-named inventor.

Application 20210275664, "Prefusion Coronavirus Spike Proteins and Their Use" is a collaboration between the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), The Scripps Research Institute (La Jolla, California), and Dartmouth College (Hanover, New Hampshire). Dr. Barney Graham, Deputy Director, Vaccine Research Center at NIH, and the chief of the Viral Pathogenesis Laboratory, heads the invention. Dr. Graham was formerly a chief resident at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

The Best of the Rest

As usual, the Department of Health topped the patent application funder Leader Board with 95 new applications.  

The Department of Homeland Security and the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) funded work from a team of inventors at the University of Washington in Seattle for a Millimeter-Wave Imaging System (20210278526).  Millimeter-wave (mmW) imaging has various applications, such as security screening, through-wall sensing and imaging, and making images of the earth and man-made structures from aircraft or spacecraft.  A multi-purpose invention.

The National Security Agency funded the University of Maryland to develop  a new  method for spray deposition techniques of additive manufacturing — 20210276327, "Systems and Methods for High Fidelity Aerosol Jet Printing Via Acoustic Forces."

This week there are four new applications for technologies beneficial in mitigating the impact of climate change. You can view them in the Emerging Technology panel of the FedInvent Patent Application Report

The USPTO published an application (20210277343) from the Department of Energy Alliance for Sustainable Energy, one of its federally funded research and development centers (FFRDCs), and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID.) This application is for the production of renewable natural gasses. This synthetic biology invention is helpful for mitigating the impact of climate change but didn't make it onto the USPTO Y CPC list this week.

The Bayh-Dole scofflaw is Northrop Grumman Systems Corporation for their patent application for an Electrical Transformer.

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On Thursday, September 9, 2021, FedInvent analyzed 212 newly published patent applications that benefitted from taxpayer funding. The applications include 193 government interest statements as required by the Bayh-Dole Act. Forty-six patent (46) applications had a government agency as the applicant or assignee. There are 244 funding references to 19 different federal departments.

Patent Application Count By Department

The applications are the work of 742 inventors.  The 724 American inventors are from 40 states and the District of Columbia.  There are 18 foreign inventors on this week’s patent applications.  They come from nine countries including Qatar, Iran, and China PRC.

This week the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) was listed as a funding source on 95 new applications.  The NIH institutes were cited 117 times as a funding source.

One hundred thirty-one (131) new applications came from the HERD — Higher Education R&D — cited on or more colleges and universities as an applicant.  Two patents came from the Historically Black College and University medical school community.  

Meharry Medical College in Nashville has an application for a discovery that the DEFA5 protein (e.g., HD5), and the expression of the DEFA5 gene, may serve as a biomarker for determining whether a patient suffers from inflammatory bowel disease has ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease. The discovery is also useful in treating inflammatory bowel disease (20210278417).  The Broad Institute and General Hospital Corporation have a patent for an invention related to the gut microbiome and predictive responses to inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) pathogenesis and propagation and therapeutic treatments for that family of diseases (20210278416).  

The Morehouse School of Medicine has an application for a nutritional supplement for treating complications resulting from sickle cell anemia (20210275582).   Harvard College and Children’s Medical Center also have an application for CRISPR gene editing to treat sickle cell anemia (20210277423). 

National Institutes of Health funded the research for all four of these patent applications. 

Thank you for reading FedInvent.  Have a great weekend.  See you on Wednesday with the latest federally-funded patent drop.

The FedInvent Team

About FedInvent 

Wayfinder Digital's FedInvent Project follows the federal innovation ecosphere from Federal R&D. FedInvent tells the stories of inventors, investigators, and innovators. We follow the taxpayer money and the inventions. 

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