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FedInvent Weekly Patent Update for July 20, 2021

Good Evening from FedInvent,

Here’s what’s going on in the Federal innovation ecosphere on Tuesday, July 20, 2021.

Take Me To The Data

PATENTS BY THE NUMBERS THIS TUESDAY

For Tuesday, July 20, 2021, FedInvent identified 137 newly granted taxpayer-funded patents. These patents 158 references to federal agencies and departments that provided funding. One hundred twenty-nine (129) of these patents contained government interest statements. Another 35 are patents where the federal government is the assignee or the applicant.

These 137 patents are the work of 480 inventors. Four hundred and seventy (470) are the work of American inventors. Ten (10) inventors are from outside the US including three from Spain, two from Korea, and two from New Zealand. Austria, China PRC, and Germany had one inventor each in this week’s patents. The American inventors came from 37 states and the District of Columbia. 


THE TECHNOLOGY CENTERS

Technology Centers (TCs) are where patents are examined. Each TC is focused on a particular area of science and technology invention. Technology Centers are organized into Art Units. Art Units are organized into more granular Group Art Units that are focused on very specific types of inventions within specific scientific, technical, and engineering domains. Here is a summary of how this week's patents broke down by Technology Center.  

Learn more.  Read the FedInvent Tech Center Explainer.


ANOTHER VIEW

The weekly FedInvent Patent Report includes a section called Count By Scientific Domain. It has a ranked list of the "First" and the "Inventive" CPCs extracted from each of this week’s patents. (ORs and XRs for old school patentistas.). This list gives you a quick way to see what types of inventions are in each week’s patents.

This week 36 patents have Medical or Veterinary Science (A61) as the FIRST CPC on the patent. The same family of CPCs is used 307 times to identify other Medical and Veterinary Science inventive elements in Tuesday’s patents. CPC symbols describing Measuring and Testing are included 22 times as the primary (first) symbol and 66 times as an inventive symbol. Scanning the list is a good way to get a feel for the types of technology this week’s inventors are working on.

Here’s a sample of how things shaped up this week. You can view the full list on the FedInvent Patent Report.


THE HEALTH COMPLEX

The Health Complex covers R&D, inventions, and innovations from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and its agencies and institutes. This week HHS was cited as a funding agency on 49 patents. NIH was cited 46 times. The individual institutes were cited as funding sources 56 times. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) was cited once.

Health innovations come from other agencies. The Military Health Complex covers the medical, veterinary, and health discoveries made by the Department of Defense (DOD) and the Department of Veterans Affairs. The FedInvent team is in the process of enhancing our analysis so we can report on the Military Health Complex at a more detailed level.  

This week we identified 12 newly granted patents from the Military Health Complex. These patents referenced funding sources from multiple organizations within DOD as well as both NSF and NIH. The primary DOD and DVA funding agencies include:

  • Five funded by U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command (USAMRMC) in Fort Detrick, Maryland. One of these patents was funded by both USAMRMC and U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command (USAMRDC).  

  • US 11065050 was awarded to both the Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center (TATRC) and the University of Nebraska. 

  • US 11065467, Systems and methods for fast and reversible nerve block, was funded by DOD, NIH, and the National Science Foundation.  

  • Two were funded by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA).

  • Three were funded by the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA).  

  • One was funded by the Army Research Office in collaboration with NIH.


THE HERD

This week, 80 higher education research and development entities, the HERD, are assignees on newly granted patents. We added another higher education entity — the US Air Force Academy, recipient of 11065482. This brings the week’s HERD count to 81.

It Doesn’t Need To Be This Hard — One of the analytical challenges when digging out the contribution of innovation from the HERD is how patents assigned to the Government are presented. Unlike the work at other colleges and universities, there is no information to help identify that the work took place at one of the Military Service Academies. This week we found the work of USAFA. It’s equally hard to find the work done at the US Naval Academy in Annapolis; at the US Military Academy at West Point; and at the US Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut. 

There is important work going at these academic centers. We need to be able to find it.

On to this week’s patents…


READ THIS PATENT —HIGH IMPACT INTERDISCIPLINARY INNOVATION

No Tipping At the US Air Force Academy

High impact innovation is the work of interdisciplinary teams that bring a variety of perspectives and skills to problem solving and invention. Some of the most interesting discoveries we find in the weekly hunt for taxpayer-funded innovation is the work of these types of teams. The problem-solving conclave of all the different people who know different stuff. Here’s a problem. Solve it.

This Tuesday we found 11065482, “Tip resistant system with quick disconnect”, an invention funded and developed by the U.S. Air Force. Not knowing upfront what a tip-resistant system was, we took a deeper look. This is what we found. 

The invention was the work of a team of ten inventors from the Air Force. Who made this? We looked at the clues on the patent to see where in the Air Force this invention came from. Lots of Colorado Springs locations for the inventors, a couple of Air Force Bases, a couple of fighter pilot inventors found on LinkedIn and an inventor at the US Air Force Academy (USAFA). We started digging around the Faculty Directory for USAFA. There we found Col. Cory Cooper, the First-Named Inventor on the patent and Department of Mechanical Engineering Department Head, Permanent Professor & Systems Engineering Board Chair. We reached out to Col. Cory Cooper to ask about his co-inventor team.  Here is what we learned.

Col. Cooper told us that the USAFA team was composed of mechanical and systems engineers, each with varying emphasis areas within their overall major — structures, materials, dynamics, human factors, and others. This is the type of interdisciplinary team that develops high-impact inventions.  

(You can read Col. Cooper’s profile here.)

We learned that the invention was developed as part of an undergraduate engineering capstone design project in 2016. The team was presented with the challenge of developing a solution to current issues with the Fast Rope Insertion and Extraction System (FRIES) used by most military services. This team removed the ubiquitous “fast rope” from their problem-solving approach and went in a very novel direction. This required integration and novel design of subsystems that had not been used for insertion and rescue scenarios before. Col. Cooper’s team also avoided the iterative approach to innovation. Put another way, they went big.

The Challenge was provided by the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL). AFRL sponsors an annual University Design Challenge seeking innovative solutions to current warfighter-focused issues. The USAFA mechanical engineering capstone project approach is known for its innovative design methodology, process, and tools.

The USAFA team won the AFRL and a subsequent DARPA innovation challenge with its invention. Their effort resulted in four new patented inventions. Here are the other three. 

9,943,710 — Push locking load attachment device

10,207,130 — Fast rope insertion system

10,213,628 — Belay braking system

Following the academic project, the inventions were filed through the Air Force’s patent office (at Wright Patterson AFB). There, the patent attorneys and IP staff refined the team’s initial invention disclosure descriptions and drawings into what you now see in the patent. The drawings are quite impressive in their ability to teach how the invention works. We liked the one-hand detach option and the drawings of how the rigging worked.  

The system was showcased in several local events following invention disclosure and patent awards to explore interest in further development and/or commercialization. The patents are currently under a Commercial Evaluation License (CEL) with Randon Tech Manufacturing, Inc. for evaluation for further development. The team accomplished one of the other capstones of federal innovation — commercialize your invention.

Col. Cooper added, "The other inventors are now serving as Air Force officers in flying and engineering assignments. Aside from being very proud of the inventions themselves, we are more proud of the innovative and inventive officers that were produced through the engineering design process. I’m in contact with several of them still and each continues to look at issues with the heart of an innovative problem-solver." 

We reached out to the former Marine who runs our Nebraska operation to get some input on the new invention and the Fast Ropes from someone who actually used one. This led to a discussion on heavy leather gloves, jumping out of hovering helicopters, the difficulty of hitting the ground with you and your gear intact, and the challenges of doing the same maneuver and hitting your mark on the deck of a moving ship. There was also a catalog of potential injuries with the current fast rope system if you don’t do it right. He declared it novel and a much-needed improvement over the current state of the art. He gave it a Bravo Zulu.

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WHAT’S HAPPENING AT THE Y?

New Emerging Climate Change Technology

There are six patents on the official USPTO list, patent applications with Y CPC symbols assigned to them. We’re still perplexed about why these Ys are winding up on these patents. There seems to be a lot more innovation in technologies useful in mitigating climate change each week. But we’re biased in favor of inventors and the market figuring out effective and elegant ways to solve problems. Until we figure out this Y CPC calculus, here’s this week’s list.

Y02A — Technologies for Adaptation to Climate Change

This week there are five health-related patent for the treatment of viruses and cancer treatment:

11065254, “Antiviral JAK inhibitors useful in treating or preventing retroviral and other viral infections.” This combination has the potential to eliminate the presence of HIV in an infected patient. This is the work of inventors from Emory University and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

11065286, “High mobility group box I mutant.” This invention is for methods of using oncolytic vaccinia viruses modified to contain an exogenous nucleic acid that codes for a variant HMGB1 protein, in the treatment of various cancers, are also provided. This invention is assigned to the inventor, Stephen H. Thorne. The work was funded by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) at NIH.

11065341, “DE-N-acetyl sialic acid antigens, antibodies thereto, and methods of use in cancer therapy.” A novel cancer treatment. This patent is assigned to Children's Hospital and Research Center at Oakland and was funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).

11066397 “Proteasome inhibitors and uses thereof.” The patent notes, “These compounds are used in the treatment of cancer, immunologic disorders, autoimmune disorders, neurodegenerative disorders, or inflammatory disorders, infectious disease, or for providing immunosuppression for transplanted organs or tissues.” The work on the inventions was done at Cornell University and funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).

Why the Y?  The four patents here cover the treatment of infections and infectious diseases that may be exacerbated by climate change. The inventions are significant. Placing them with other vector-borne illnesses (bring on the mosquitos) seems a bit off. Unless we’ve missed there hasn’t been a lot of discussion of cancer risk increasing as the Earth warms. 

The fifth patent, 11065585 Synthetic membranes, and methods of use thereof is an invention for methods of isolating volatile organic compounds from volatile organic mixtures comprising water and volatile organic compounds. Purifying and desalination inventions. Work on this invention was done at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and was funded by the Office of Science at the Department of Energy.

Why the Y? According to the CPC symbol this invention relates to, "Air quality improvement or preservation, e.g. vehicle emission control or emission reduction by using catalytic converters" (Y02A 50/20). A two-way catalytic converter might be an option but it seems like a stretch. This is an organic chemistry and biofuels invention. USPTO put it here. Its USPTO’s classification system. There must be a reason. We just can’t figure it out. 

Y02B — Climate Change Mitigation Technologies Related to Buildings, e.g Housing, House Appliances or Related End-user Applications

11070167, “Systems and methods for reworking shingled solar cell modules.” This invention presents a way to build solar cell modules in a shingle formation. It enables the solar cell modules to skip solar cells that aren’t operational and keep working.  

Why the Y? This is a patent that is for photovoltaic energy — solar cells, a source of renewable energy. This Y fits.

Y02C Capture, Storage, Sequestration or Disposal of Greenhouse Gases [GHG]

11067549, “Designs for enhanced reliability and calibration of landfill gas measurement and control devices.” This patent is part of a portfolio of 14 patents from Loci, Controls Inc. Loci Controls, Inc. Loci Controls, Inc builds automated landfill gas collection designed for Renewable Natural Gas projects and high-value LFG to electric projects. The company leveraged two NSF SBIR and STTR grants into a significant GHG mitigation invention. 

Why the Y? Landfill gas and methane make up 2% of all GHG emissions in the United States. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas 28 to 36 times more effective than CO2 at trapping heat in the atmosphere. This invention and the patents owned by Loci Controls have the potential to make a significant impact on reducing LFG in the environment.

Y02E — Reduction of Greenhouse Gas [GHG] Emissions, Related to Energy Generation, Transmission or Distribution

11069527 “Laser assisted SiC growth on silicon.” This invention is for "methods for making heterojunctions for photovoltaic and other optical devices, and high power and high-frequency devices." 

Why the Y? This patent is for making solar panels and other photovoltaic devices. Renewable energy.

FROM THE IC

This week’s roundup of patents funded by the Intelligence Community includes: 

Patent 11066192, “Satellite deployer door with clutch bearing” is assigned to the rocket scientists at Rocket Lab USA, Inc. funded by the CIA. 

Patent Number 11068264, “Processors, methods, systems, and instructions to load multiple data elements to destination storage locations other than packed data registers”, is from inventors at Intel funded by DOD for NSA.  

Paulo Lozano from the MIT Space Propulsion Lab Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics and Dr. David Krejci, an MIT Research Affiliate from Vienna, Austria received US Patent 11067064, “Propulsion systems including a sublimable barrier.” The funding was from the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO).

HIDING IN PLAIN SIGHT

Finally, our favorite analysis of the week, the patents in the “Government Rights Acknowledged” category. There are four this week.

Two are from United Technologies and its new parent Raytheon Technologies, our weekly favorite for patents and applications — more jet propulsion work. The other two are from BAE Systems Information and Electronic Systems Integration Inc. BAE could be any of the usual electronic warfare suspects — DOD, NGA. The prognosticators are playing it safe this week. FedInvent calls all four for DOD.


THE BEST OF THE REST

The Department of Justice and another Who’s Who of federal R&D funders supported 11069370, “Tampering detection and location identification of digital audio recordings”, assigned to the University of Tennessee Research Foundation and UT-Battelle, LLC, the operator of the Oak Ridge National Lab. This invention is a method for forensic authentication of digital audio recordings to determine whether the recordings have been tampered with based on the location where the digital file was created in the first place.

The patent was funded by:

Department of Energy (DOE)

  • Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL)

  • UT-Battelle, LLC (UT-BATTELLE)

  • Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL)

Department of Justice (DOJ)

  • National Institute of Justice (NIJ)

National Science Foundation (NSF)

  • Directorate for Engineering (ENG)

  • Division of Engineering Education and Centers (EEC)

The location aspects of this invention are a little scary unless you’re the person being falsely accused of a crime. And Deep Fakes are becoming an increasing threat. So bring it.

And finally 11070532 — “Methods for communicating data utilizing session-less dynamic encryption.” This is a secure communication protocol by utilizing a one-step process of authenticating and encrypting data without having to exchange symmetric keys or needing to renew or re-issue digital identities fundamental to asymmetric encryption methodology. The Bitcoin HODLers who lost their private key or the people who are tired of having to have new encryption certificates issues will probably find this invention interesting.

Subscribers can explore the details of this week’s federally funded inventions in the FedInvent Patent Report.


THE INNOVATION AGENDA

The FedInvent team monitors the latest development in federal science and technology policy and projects. This week it’s the discussion of a Carbon Border Tax.

Both the EU and the US are working on implementing a Carbon Border Tax that would charge a tariff on imports of products that have both high carbon emissions and are from countries that are not aggressively looking to cut GHG emissions. The industries likely to take a hit include cement; commodities like steel, aluminum, and iron; fertilizer, and the main foe on the seas cruise ships and ocean freight operations. The tariff may be enacted but the means of realizing its goals may be unattainable in the short term. Right now there are no standards for calculating an exact measure of GHG emissions within an industry; or across industries.

The Innovation Perspective

There are two areas worth watching here. The first is how government — federal, state, regional, and local — fund R&D and spend money on new technologies to reduce GHG in the industries most affected by these tariffs. The second is the process US and EU trading partners and the World Trade Organization will use to establish global standards for measuring and accounting for the new tax. (FedInvent prognosticators — Not happening anytime soon.)

Another important innovation issue is how a Carbon Border Tax and the statutory requirements it brings with it will impact R&D. Will the focus shift from inventions to deal with climate change to building technology and sensor networks for measuring the impact of each industry instead of solving the emissions problems of these critical sectors. The consultants and lobbyists stand to make a fortune here. We’ll be watching this one.  


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