Packaging Pillow Bioreactors

Taxpayer-Funded Patent Applications for October 28, 2021

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On Thursday, October 28, 2021, the USPTO published 7,890 pre-grant patent applications. One hundred fifty-four (154) benefitted from taxpayer funding. Here is what we learned from our analysis of Thursday's federally funded patent applications.

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This Thursday’s highlights include:

  • Packaging Pillow Bioreactors

  • Five COVID-19-Related Inventions

  • Fake News

  • A Vertigo Inducing Cannabis Invention

  • A 2,568 Word Claim

  • Three Bayh-Dole Scofflaws

  • And the Numbers


Packaging Pillow Bioreactors — Read This Patent

Throughout the pandemic, the garage was filled with cardboard boxes, bubble wrap®, and inflatable packaging pillows. Packaging pillows are those strips of rectangular air-filled bubbles in the box that keep the contents from bouncing around and getting damaged. The cardboard boxes get recycled. The bubble wrap and the packaging pillows get popped. 

What else do you do with a packaging pillow? Make an elegant, easy, and economical bioreactor out of things you can buy from office supply and hobby shops. That's what a team of researchers from the US Forest Service (Philip J. Kersten), the University of Maine (Thomas J. Schwartz), and the University of Wisconsin (James. A. Dumesic) did.  

Pre-grant publication number 20210331131, "Repurposing Inflatable Packaging Pillows As Bioreactors: Convenient Synthesis of Glucose By Whole-Cell Catalysis Under Oxygen," was published this week. The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) is the assignee on this application.

Innovation sometimes happens when ordinary things are reconfigured for new and useful ways, as demonstrated by the list of materials from a peer-reviewed paper on the bioreactor. Here is the list. Just remember this configuration is patent pending. 

  • Catalase purified from bovine liver and D-arabino-1,4-lactone were purchased from Sigma- Aldrich. 

  • Fill-AirTM RF-1 inflatable packaging pillows from Sealed Air® were purchased from Uline (model S-5234; 9 × 11 in., 0.2 cu. ft). Maxi Pipet Tips (#21-195-3; 1000-5000ul), transfer pipets (#13-711-6M), and molded fiberglass trays (MFG Tray, Linesville, PA; model #920108; 29.84 × 22.22 × 10.41 cm; Fisher Scientific Cat. No. 15-239-33) were purchased from Fisher Scientific. 

  • C-Flex® tubing (# SK-06424-74; 1/4 "ID x 1/2 "OD) was purchased from Cole-Parmer®. 

  • Kydex® V thermoplastic (0.060′′ thick–12′′ × 12′′; manufactured by Sekisui SPI) was purchased through Amazon.com. 

  • Plaster cloth gauze was purchased from a local hobby shop. 

It Is More Than a Plastic Bag

Both the patent application and the peer-reviewed journal article explain how to use the bioreactor for the synthesis of glucose. 

Affordable single-use bioreactors are in demand. This design offers interesting opportunities for simple bioreactors to be available to support a broad range of uses. In addition, the invention might offer STEM students the ability to work with a single-use bioreactor as well more often when compared to the cost of current low-end single-use options. This packaging pillow bioreactor is a compelling invention.

The application is ready for examination but not docketed at USPTO. Hopefully, this invention won't linger in the unexamined patent application inventory, which stood at 647,415 as we are writing this.

In case you were wondering, Sealed Air patented bubble wrap. You can read their US Patent No. 3,142,599 granted on July 28, 1964, for a "Method for Making Laminated Cushioning Material." (This one predates the full-text copies of the patents, so you'll need to click on the Images button to see the document.)

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COVID Patent Applications

This week there are five COVID-19 related inventions. 20210330922, "Negative Pressure Oronasal Apparatus," This is a negative pressure surgical apparatus for personal protective equipment worn by a patient for protecting health care workers. The US Air Force developed this invention. The second application is 20210332110, "Neutralizing Anti-SARS-COV-2 Antibodies and Methods of Use Thereof." This application is from Rockefeller University in New York. This invention is for COVID antibodies. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) funded this work.

Cedars-Sinai Medical application 20210332122, "Dyregulation of COVID-19 Receptor Associated with IBD," was published on Thursday. The invention presents a way of identifying a patient with an increased risk of developing severe forms of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), based at least in part on an expression of one or more biomarkers. One or more biomarkers is angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2), the host receptor for severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). A link between IBD and COVID.

Raytheon BBN Technologies Corporation had two of its COVID-related patent applications published on Thursday: 20210335452, "FAST-NA For Thread Detection In High-Throughput Sequencing," and 20210335454, "FAST-NA For Detection and diagnostic Targeting." The work on both applications was funded by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA). 

FAST-NA was originally developed for screening commercial DNA synthesis orders by defining and flagging unique DNA signatures of pathogenicity. The software identifies the specific DNA sequences associated with SARS-CoV-2 for the diagnostic assay to detect the virus, with confidence, in human saliva. The Raytheon BBN SARS-CoV-2 diagnostic test development is a collaboration with Purdue University, PortaScience Inc., Coretex Design Inc., and LaDica LLC.


An Intellectual Vertigo Inducing Cannabinoid Invention

Publication number 20210332007 is an example of a patent title that tells the mere mortal very little about the underlying invention. The title, "DIARYLUREAS AS CB1 ALLOSTERIC MODULATORS," is for a cannabinoid compound for the treatment of addiction. (That combination caused a little intellectual vertigo.) Cannabinoids are compounds found in cannabis. The cannabinoid CB1 and CB2 receptors are components of the endocannabinoid system, which involves many important physiological processes such as cardiovascular regulation, learning, memory, appetite, and pain control. The application notes, "The present compounds could also be of great value to obese patients with addiction problems." This application is one of three cannabinoid-related patent applications published on Thursday. The publication numbers of the other two applications are 20210330603 and 20210332374.


Fake News

An unusual word appeared in this week's patent applications — fake news.

The Army Research Office and the Office of Naval Research funded the research by the Arizona State University that led to a pre-grant publication 20210334908 titled, "Method and Apparatus for Collecting, Detecting and Visualizing Fake News." The abstract reads, 

Detecting fake news involves receiving a plurality of allegedly real news stories and allegedly fake news stories from one or more websites, receiving a plurality of user posts to a social media platform relating to the plurality of allegedly real news stories and allegedly fake news stories; receiving a plurality of user engagements related to the plurality of user posts, receiving user profile information, and social media network information, for users creating the plurality of user posts to the social media platform, and users participating in the engagements related to the plurality of user posts, and classifying each of the received plurality of allegedly real news stories and allegedly fake news stories as one of a real news story and a fake news story based on the analyzed content and analyzed social media context.

If you are a student of contemporary issues on social media and fake news, this is a thought-provoking application in terms of their approach to analyzing and stratifying which stories are factual and which are fake and how the fabricated information spreads.   

We are always curious about when a new term starts appearing in patents. So we took a look at when "fake news" started appearing in US patents. Seventy-six patents include the term "fake news." The earliest patent containing "fake news is 7,827,123 filed on August 16, 2007, and granted on November 2, 2010. The assignee on this invention is Google. Here the inventor defined fake news as part of real-world artistic events, including "works of imagination, such as a book of fiction, a fake news story, an abstract painting, or a computer-generated digital image." One hundred ninety-one (191) applications use the term fake news. The earliest use of the term fake news in a published patent application is July 10, 2008.  

Meanwhile, this week Facebook renamed itself Meta. 

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A Claim With 2,568 Words

On Thursday, USPTO published a patent application from The Children's Medical Center Corporation (20210330678). The Children's Medical Center Corporation is the parent of Boston Children's Hospital, a Harvard Medical School Teaching Hospital. This patent, "PAPD5 Inhibitors and Methods of Use Thereof," is an explosion of organic chemistry. Claim 1, one sentence that begins with a capital letter and ends with a period, has 2,568 words. The 77 claims have 13,171 words. The claims alone would take up 22 pages in a standard Word document. The patent application is a beast. Our sympathies are with the patent examiner who gets this one.


The Bayh-Dole Scofflaws

This Thursday, three newly published patent applications don't contain the statutorily required government interest statement information. Here they are:

20210332711 — ROTOR ASSEMBLY from Raytheon Technologies Corporation. The Raytheon triad agencies — DARPA, the Air Force Research Lab, and the Air Force application probably funded this work. 

The other two scofflaw entries are quantum computing-related. The first is 20210333038 — TESTING ENVIRONMENT FOR CRYOGENIC CHAMBER from Honeywell International, Inc. This is an invention of a refrigeration system for conducting experiments and for development for quantum computing. Published application 20210336610 — SUPERCONDUCTING LATCH SYSTEM assigned to Northrop Grumman Systems Corporation. This is also a quantum computer invention. Quantum computing is the domain of the National Security Agency, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, DARPA, and DOE. For now, the prognosticators will assign these to the Intelligence Community as the funding organization. Over time we may be able to be more precise. 


Patents By The Numbers

On Tuesday, USPTO granted 6,786 new patents. One hundred fifty-four (154) cited taxpayer funding.

Here are the numbers for these taxpayer-funded applications:

  • 148 applications have Government Interest Statements.

  • 26 have an applicant or an assignee that is a government agency.

  • The 154 patents have 168 department-level funding citations.

  • These patent applications are the work of 544 inventors.

  • The 528 American inventors came from 37 states and the District of Columbia.

  • California is number one in both total inventors (127) and first-named inventors (34) by state. Massachusetts ranks number two in total inventors (58) and (16) first-named inventors.

  • 16 foreign inventors come from 10 countries.

  • There are 101 patents (65.6%) where at least one assignee is a college or university, the HERD.

  • 9 patents are assigned to Federally Funded Research and Development Centers (FFRDCs).

  • A federal department is one of the assignees on 16 patent applications.

  • 2 patent applications have Y CPC classifications indicating that USPTO believes the invention may be useful in helping to mitigate the impact of climate change.

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Patent Application Count By Department

The Health Complex

Funding References to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Institutes and the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Before We Go

We added a FedInvent Archive page with links to older FedInvent Reports and the associated newsletters. You can access it here.

That's this week's FedInvent patents update. Please explore the FedInvent Patents Report as there are many more interesting inventions than we could jam into a newsletter. 

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Thanks for reading FedInvent. Next week, we'll be back with the latest on taxpayer-funded patents, new patent applications, and the latest on the federal innovation ecosphere.  

The FedInvent Team 


About FedInvent 

FedInvent tells the stories of inventors, investigators, and innovators. Wayfinder Digital's FedInvent Project follows the federal innovation ecosphere, taxpayer money, and the inventions it pays for.