Red Pill or Blue Pill?

New Patent Applications for July 15, 2021

Good Evening from FedInvent,

Happy Ides of July.  If it’s Thursday, it’s PGPub Day — the day for analyzing new pre-grant publications of patent applications from USPTO.  Here’ what’s going on this Thursday.

Patent Applications By the Numbers This Thursday

For Thursday, July 15, 2021, FedInvent identified 175 newly published patent applications that were the result of work funded by US taxpayers. These patents have 204 references to federal agencies and departments. One hundred seventy (170) of these published applications contained government interest statements. Another 23 are applications where the federal government is the assignee or the applicant.

These 148 patents are the work of 600 inventors. Five hundred eighty-three (583) are the work of American inventors. Seventeen (17) inventors are from outside the US including five from Mexico.  The American inventors came from 35 states and the District of Columbia. 

Take Me To The Data

The Health Complex

This week HHS was cited as a funding agency on 82 patent applications.  NIH was cited 78 times.  The individual institutes were cited as funding sources 103 times.  FDA funded the University of Colorado’s work on a new 3D bioprinter.

Additive Manufacturing

Additive manufacturing, semiconductors, and advanced computer hardware are on the list of science and technology priorities to maintain US global innovation leadership.

You can see the US list of science and technology priorities followed by China’s Seven Frontier Technologies, China’s 21st-century priorities.

There are three new Additive manufacturing aka 3D printing inventions in this week’s patent applications.  The 3D bioprinter funded by FDA.  

An application from Iowa State University and  Northwestern University 20210215636 — AEROSOL JET PRINTED FLEXIBLE GRAPHENE CIRCUITS FOR ELECTROCHEMICAL SENSING AND BIOSENSING — a new way to make biochips.

The inventors note funding from a Who’s Who of federal funders:

Department of Commerce (DOC):

  • National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

National Science Foundation (NSF):

  • Directorate for Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE)

  • Division of Electrical and Communications Systems (ECS)

  • Directorate for Engineering (ENG)

  • Division of Chemical, Bioengineering, Environmental and Transport Systems (CBET)

  • Directorate for Mathematical and Physical Sciences (MPS)

  • Division of Materials Research (DMR)

This application is for 3D printing to fabricate a sensor or biosensor which enables significant advances in the large-scale commercial adoption of high-performance printed graphene immunosensors.

There’s an ingestible microneedle for drug delivery from the University of Maryland funded by NSF’s Division of Electrical, Communications and Cyber Systems (ECCS) — 20210213264 — MICRONEEDLE SYSTEM AND METHOD OF FABRICATION OF AN INGESTIBLE STRUCTURE.

We learn from this patent application that, "Gastrointestinal (GI) tract disorders account for 100 million doctors' visits a year. There is a significant need for minimally invasive technology to enable GI tract-targeted research, prescreening, diagnosis, and therapy, ultimately aiming towards advanced precision healthcare."  Precision health is another high-priority technology on The Hill’s legislative radar for new funding.

Red Pill or Blue Pill?  — READ THIS PATENT

This patent application, 20210214303, SCORPION VENOM BENZOQUINONE DERIVATIVES AND USES THEREOF,  has a lot of scary stuff going on.  

First, it starts with scorpion venom.  The venom of Diplocentrus melici, a scorpion indigenous to Mexico. "Worldwide, scorpion stings are a significant source of morbidity and mortality, annually disabling approximately 1.5 million humans… Initial investigations into scorpion venom were focused on isolating and structurally characterizing poisonous compounds."

Then add a smelly chemical. 1,4-Benzoquinone, commonly known as paraquinone, is a chemical compound with the formula C₆H₄O₂. In a pure state, it forms bright-yellow crystals with a characteristic irritating odor, resembling that of chlorine, bleach, and hot plastic or formaldehyde.

Then there are a couple of nasty diseases.  Staphylococcus aureus which the Merck Manual, Consumer Edition notes, "…is the most dangerous of all of the many common staphylococcal bacteria."  Then add multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB), a form of TB that doesn’t respond to the two most powerful anti-TB drugs. 

(If you want to know more about the scary facts on how many people are impacted by TB, go here.)

The good stuff appeared in paragraph 113.  "Compounds with the 1,4-benzoquinone motif are a large class of molecules that are highly reactive, acting as both oxidants and Michael acceptors, and many have been serendipitously found to have antimicrobial, antineoplastic, anticoagulant, and analgesic activity…"  (You gotta love a patent that has the words, "serendipitously found", in it.)  

The inventors continue, "The two 1,4-benzoquinone compounds of the disclosure, one red, the other blue, which are derived from naturally occurring precursors in the venom of Diplocentrus melici, a scarcely studied species of scorpion indigenous to Mexico." 

"In vitro, the red and blue 1,4 benzoquinones are effective anti-proliferative agents against Staphylococcus aureus (scary disease #1), whereas the blue 1,4 benzoquinone is more active against Mycobacterium tuberculosis, including against a multi-drug resistant (MDR) strain (scary disease #2). The bactericidal activity against these pathogens of both 1,4 benzoquinones is comparable to that of available antibiotics."  

Scorpion venom is beyond expensive: harvesting a milliliter would cost about $10,300 according to Dr. Zare, the first-named inventor.  According to an October 1, 2019 article in Scientific American, "Researchers at the National Autonomous University of Mexico milked scorpions of the eastern Mexican species Diplocentrus melici, whose venom had never been studied before. They separated its components and tested some on Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli, and Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacteria. Two of these components—one of which happens to be red when isolated and the other blue—killed staph and TB microorganisms, suggesting their potential as antibiotics.

"The researchers sent small samples of the isolated compounds to Dr. Zare’s group at Stanford to determine the substances' compositions and molecular structures. The group then chemically synthesized the compounds and shipped them to the Salvador Zubirán National Institute of Medical Sciences and Nutrition in Mexico City. There pathologists tested the synthesized substances in mice infected with tuberculosis and on human tissue samples hosting staph bacteria. The red compound proved more effective at killing staph, and the blue one worked better on TB—including a drug-resistant strain—without damaging the lining of the mice's lungs."

You can read the research paper, "1,4-Benzoquinone antimicrobial agents against Staphylococcus aureus and Mycobacterium tuberculosis derived from scorpion venom". here.

The work was a collaboration between inventors from Mexico and the United States.  The Mexican inventors are affiliated with both Universidad Nacional Autonoma De Mexico, a public research university in Mexico and the largest university in Latin America, and  INSTITUTO NACIONAL DE CIENCIAS MEDICAS Y NUTRICION SALVADOR ZUBIRAN (The   Salvador Zubirán National Institute of Medical Sciences and Nutrition, INCMNSZ), one of the National Institutes of Health of the Ministry of Health of Mexico. The inventors from the United States are from Stanford University.

The red compound "…is very effective at killing Staphylococcus aureus…"

The blue compound "is effective against multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB)."

A side note…This patent application has a no-mumbo-jumbo glossary of terms which includes a comprehensive list of pathogenic bacteria and a representative list of cancers where the new compound may be useful, another scary list but we’re going to copy it and add it to our glossary collection, it’s that good.


Thursday we found Cardiac Motion’s application for a new mobile pulmonary artery pressure monitor useful to patients with congestive heart failure who are elderly, incapacitated, or do not have easy access to a clinic, doctor's office, or hospital.  The application was funded by National Science Foundation (NSF) and invented in collaboration with the University of California.

Cardiac Motion, LLC is a startup company incubated by a Rural Healthcare Research Institute and in partnership with UC Davis Engineering College and School of Medicine as well as the Tahoe Forest Health System in Truckee, CA  The Rural Healthcare Research Institutes is part of the Federal Office of Rural Health (FORHP) which is part of HHS.

Not A Start-Up

Last Tuesday Delphi Technologies IP received a patent for its gasoline direct injection compression ignition engine invention.  Today its patent application for 20210213932, SYSTEM AND METHOD FOR VEHICLE COAST CONTROL was published. The invention is for improving vehicle energy efficiency through vehicle coast control or in patent speak, "improve the energy efficiency of a vehicle by controlling vehicle propulsion of the vehicle during a coasting event." This is part of an Adaptive Cruise Control system (ACC).  

The invention checks all the current US technology priorities. It improves fuel efficiency contributing to mitigating the impact of climate change. It's internet-connected and operates in the cloud. It uses a machine configured to learn the characteristics of multiple operators of the vehicle.  It "...may be configured to determine the target speed using various types of stops (e.g., stop signs, traffic lights, turns in a path being traversed by the vehicle), personality characteristics of the operator, mood characteristics of the operator, a speed limit, traffic characteristics". (The mood and personality characteristics might be useful in mitigating road rage too.) 

According to Emergen Research, sales of ACC are expected to reach a market size of $62 billion by 2027.  "The growth of this market is spurred by the escalating sales of luxury automobiles, rising demand for state-of-the-art automotive electronics, the growing need for automotive fuel-efficiency, and a rise in government endeavors to promote the adoption of electric vehicles. This is another invention that 

Delphi Technologies IP is located in Barbados. We asked our international tax correspondent what the deal is on parking IP in Barbados.  As expected, we were informed that the taxes on patent royalties are lower in Barbados. 

What’s Happening at the Y?

New Emerging Climate Change Technology

Climate change technology is an increasingly important part of the federal science and technology agenda.  Both the Biden Administration and the European Union are exploring a new Carbon Border Tax which will impose tariffs on imports that come from industries that produce high amounts of CO2.  The goal is to create new incentives for these industries to lower their GHG footprint.  Additional funding for R&D for new climate change mitigation is expected.  You can see a list of the World’s Top GHG emitters here.

There are three patent applications on the official USPTO list, patent applications with Y CPC symbols assigned to them.  

We found more inventions useful in addressing climate change starting with the Delphi cruise control invention above.  There are several applications for new battery technologies. 

Here are the three identified by USPTO.  

20210212989,  MODULATORS OF GTPASES AND THEIR USE — molecules useful in treating cancers and some infections.  

Why the Y?  The patent is here because it covers the treatment of infections that may be exacerbated by climate change.

There are two that related reduction of greenhouse gases (GHG) in energy production of renewable fuels from the biosphere.  


Why the Y?  The application covers decreasing carbon emissions in biorefining processes by using anaerobic fermentors that achieving total carbon utilization in biofuel production.

20210214757  Method of adjusting the pH of a pretreatment solution using carbon dioxide useful for integrating saccharification and fermentation of biomass funded by DOE's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) , and National Technology and Engineering Solutions of Sandia, LLC (NTESS). 

Why the Y?  This invention is a new approach to fermentation useful in the creation of biofuels.  

Saccharification is the process of breaking down complex carbohydrates like corn or sugar cane in the ethanol fuel production process. During fermentation, microorganisms (e.g., bacteria and yeast) metabolize plant sugars and produce ethanol.

From the IC

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) funded two applications this week.  One on quantum computing from Duke. A second from the University of Colorado.

Hiding In Plain Sight

Finally our favorite analysis of the week, the patents where the applicant doesn’t come clean about who funded their work other than saying,  "the Government has certain rights to the invention — we place these in the Government Rights Acknowledged category.  There are three this week.

There’s 20210215098 — DIFFUSER FOR ROTATING DETONATION ENGINE — from UNITED TECHNOLOGIES CORPORATION, now part of Raytheon for more jet propulsion stuff probably paid for by DOD.

There’s 20210215779 — HEATER SYSTEM WITH MAGNETIC FIELD SUPPRESSION from Northrop Grumman who has a zillion contracts with DOD.  This one is a toss-up between the Space Force, formerly part of the Air Force.  Advanced research with DARPA.   So many contract choices here.  On another note, Northrop Grumman has a $13.3 billion engineering and manufacturing development contract for the U.S. military’s next-generation intercontinental ballistic missile system. The Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent, or GBSD, program aims to replace the aging Minuteman III nuclear-armed ICBMs.  Watch this space.

Finally, there is 20210217949 — SUPERCONDUCTOR STRUCTURE WITH NORMAL METAL CONNECTION TO A RESISTOR AND METHOD OF MAKING THE SAME also from Northrop Grumman.  This is an improvement in semiconductors and most of the inventors are from towns in Maryland near Fort Meade.  We’ll go with NSA on this one. 


The Best of the Rest

Here are a few more things to check out the FedInvent Patent Applications page.

There is a lot of other interesting applications this week — biomaterials; bone regeneration in compromised wounds from the University of Pittsburg funded by NIH and U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command, and this:

A smart resistance exercise device and exercise system that senses quantifies, and transmits resistance exercise data (e.g., force profile) to a portable device such as a smartphone or smartwatch for physical therapy from Dartmouth funded by NIH and NSF.  

The USPS has two new applications for package handling and image encryption.  (I have the image of Tuesday’s Door Stop design patent on my phone so I can ask my mailman whether he’s spotted the newly patented door stop on at work.)

Thanks for reading FedInvent. We’ll be back with Tuesday’s new patents next week.

Subscribers can explore this Thursday’s pre-grant patent applications publications here.