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March Patent News: COVID-19 – Finding a Cure and Limiting the Escalation

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Lately there hasn’t been much on the minds of people all across the globe other than keeping germ-free and far away from the Coronavirus. However, the earth still turns each day and scientists are doing what they can to improve the world we’re living in by doing everything from eliminating the virus to cutting toilet paper waste. At the risk of contributing to Coronavirus news fatigue, let’s dive in.

The Race for the CoronaCure… Through a Video Game?

Researchers at the University of Washington are using a video game called Foldit to try to develop a cure for the COVID-19 virus that has the world in an epidemic panic. The game works by allowing the user to create different protein strains in a puzzle-like situation to fight against the virus. Proteins that make the most sense are then tested by the Institute of Protein Design to see how effective they could be. Everyone who would like to make their contribution to fighting this disease can download the (free!) game to try and create the winning protein cure.

New Masks in Tuscany to Help Limit Spread of Coronavirus

Another side effect of the Coronavirus has been the attention to medical safety supplies, such as face masks. Although masks have been selling like crazy in heavily-affected areas such as Italy, scientists have found many types of masks to be less effective for the average person trying to prevent breathing in the germs associated with the virus. The reason for this, it has been determined has much to do with the fabric the masks are made of. So special masks are now being produced in Tuscany for use in their medical facilities to protect doctors, nurses, and those in close contact with the sick. The principle of the Tuscan mask is the use of a non-woven tissue, which would retain germ-fighting properties. It is hopeful the new masks may at some point reach beyond Tuscany’s borders.

Interestingly, there are only 63 U.S. patents or published U.S. patent applications that have the phrase “face mask” or “facemask” and the words “viral” or “antiviral” in their Title, Abstract or Claims. Here is an IPVison Forward Landscape Patent Map showing the 63 patent properties (shaded in yellow) and the 647 other U.S. patents that cite them.

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Click the map for an interactive version, or click here.

Has America Had a Solution to Coronavirus from the Beginning?

A small company in Drexel, MO, is selling devices that can detect the presence of COVID-19 in any room to government agencies in Asia and Europe, and yet the United States government has yet to make a purchase. The CEO of InnovaPrep, Dave Alburty, is befuddled by the lack of interest in the technology, especially since the American government helped fund the research and even owns some of the equipment used. The device in question can collect the virus if it is present and determine if it is still infectious. While production ramps up to provide for other areas of the globe, InnovaPrep still waits to hear back from the US.  InnovaPrep has 14 issued U.S. patents.

Toilet Paper That Is Better for the Environment? Maybe Not

As the demand for toilet paper has been ramping up, some may begin to question its effect on the environment. While it might not be known for sure if more of the tissue will be used during this buyout, or whether it is just being stored for future use, one may begin to wonder what happens to the many parts that are notbeing used in the process, namely the cardboard tube in the middle of each roll. One user in particular, New York Times columnist Emily Flitter took notice of a particular brand from Scott that used no roll in an effort preserve the eco-system. Although Scott’s Tube Free tissue was patented in 2009 by the Kimberly-Clark group, it was short-lived. Flitter was told the coreless brand of tissue was discontinued and the company was not planning to pursue it any longer (or release the patent). Until that happens, consumers will need to continue filling the landfills with them… or finding new arts and crafts for them.

CV blog2Click the map for an interactive version, or click here.

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Categories: Patent News