The coronavirus outbreak is the only thing on all of our minds these days. It has changed the scene of industry in so many ways: companies that thought they were car manufacturers are now building ventilators, makers of alcoholic beverages now making sanitizer, and even retired homemakers are contributing to the cause by sewing masks for hospital workers. Among all these changes, what new patents have arrived on the scene to help?
Newborns Could Use a Pod to Keep Safe from COVID-19
There’s no doubt about it: spring of 2020 is one of the scariest times to give birth, for both newborns and parents. A new father in China has done what he can to protect his new son from the virus by developing a special pod for the child that filters the air coming in and provides a sterile glove for the parent to use to touch the child. While risk of complications from the virus in young children is extremely low, parents are encouraged to do what they can to protect them. Whether this means encapsulating the child in a pod is to be determined by the parent.
Clear Masks Created to Help the Deaf During Coronavirus Outbreak
With the concern of viral transmission forcing the use of masks and other face coverings, one group of the populous has encountered a new struggle. The deaf are unable to read the lips they cannot see. A 21-year-old American student tackled this problem by creating a mask with a clear window in front of the mouth area for visibility. After obtaining needed funds from GoFundMe, the student was able to create masks and ship them for free to hospitals all over the United States.
The “face masks” that many of us are wearing are a subset of inventions called “respirators.” These include the N95 filtering masks as well as masks for the delivery of oxygen or anesthesia. There are 604 U.S. patents or published U.S. patent applications with the word “Respirator” in the title. These are shown in this IPVision Patent Citation Interconnection Map:
As you might expect from all the news reports about scaling up mask production, 3M Innovative has the most patents on this map.
The most highly cited 3M patent on this map is US6536435 “Respirator headpiece and release mechanism.” This is an IPVision Patent Landscape Map of this 3M patent showing the 134 other U.S. patents that cite it as prior art:
ResMed (NYSE: RMD) is the owner of over 100 of these patents.
Process for Decontaminating Masks Could Save Lives
The FDA has approved a process for decontaminating N95 face masks using vapor phase hydrogen peroxide. The company that developed the process, non-profit research and development firm Battelle, provides the service for up to 80,000 masks each day in a makeshift tent in their parking lot. The process has made possible the ability to reuse masks up to twenty times each, a legitimate lifesaving innovation in the face of PPE shortages that have left thousands of healthcare workers vulnerable.
Questions about the CARES Act Answered by USPTO
Early this month, the USPTO (United States Patent and Trademark Office) answered some common questions they have fielded regarding the extension of some patent or trademark-related deadlines. The take-away is this: The CARES Act is allowing small and micro-entities to have fees waived for documents due between March 27 and April 30, 2020 until 30 days after the original filing date, as long as a statement is included relating the delay to the COVID-19 outbreak. More details can be found on the USPTO website.