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Tuesday, May 28, 2024
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Reaching the Magic Number

Hundreds of patents are filed every month by San Diego companies and it’s no surprise Qualcomm Inc. often accounts for the lion’s share of applications. During the 30-day period from Oct. 10 to Nov. 10, the technology giant was issued 221 patents.

But 103 other patents were issued during that same period to smaller companies, many of them biopharmaceutical or technology firms seeking to safeguard their intellectual property. The patents ranged from ear molds that form headphones that conform to an individual’s ear to a bartender’s mixing tin that can be stacked to generate a variety of pours.

Patent applications often use complex wording to describe the invention to dissuade competition and guard against infringement. Some of the information about specific inventions or technology is kept private to protect the intellectual property and is only made available to attorneys or inventors.

From Oct. 10 to Nov. 10, over 33,000 patents were listed in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office database, 1,327 of which contained San Diego in the patent description. So far this year, up until Nov. 11, 282,171 patents were issued.

When contacted by the San Diego Business Journal, some inventors declined to speak about their inventions because they had not yet been released through their parent companies or because they didn’t want to publicize the invention at this time. Others were cautious in describing how the invention worked because they didn’t want to reveal their particular methodology, or the secret that made the invention unique.

The Business Journal picked the following handful of patents that were issued between Oct. 10 and Nov. 10.

Emergency mobile notification handling system

Dean Williams, Pat Merritt, Krijn van der Raadt, GreatCall Inc.

The emergency mobile notification handling system allows call centers to maintain electronic storage of personal profiles of its clients (including contact information). This text-based emergency notification message would be sent out based on designated personal profiles to people associated with a certain person or profile. It would also manage notifications so that a person within a call center database could tell whether another person has received a text-based emergency notification message.

Typical emergency notification systems allow authorities to send text messages to cellphones within emergency areas. The inventors system goes another step by both forwarding the information and confirming receipt of the message.

Precision pour drink shaker

Jeremy M. LeBlanc, Chad A. Berkey, Tin Play LLC

“The Precision Pour Fair Tin upgrades a bartender’s standard mixing tin in a multitude of visually appealing, exciting and revenue-generating ways. It is transparent so that sponsor logos can be featured, while customers are able to watch their drinks being poured and mixed. The stainless-steel pin inside the Precision Pour Fair Tin functions both as a measuring tool (liquid poured to its height creates the perfect pour) and as a stopper to allow multiple Precision Pour Fair Tins to be stacked so that even a beginning bartender can perform exciting tip-generating multidrink pours. The Precision Pour Fair Tins are offered in five colored bands at the top and bottom. Use a different alcohol in each color and all risks of cross-contamination are abated.”— Jeremy LeBlanc, president

Ear molds

Brian C. Bone, Nicholas Murrells, Feng Feng, Treefrog Developments Inc.

“The basis of the patent was for an earmold that is a silicon rubber-type of insert that goes into the wearer’s ear. We focused on comfort, sound quality and good retention in the ear. What’s different is the technique we use to make sure it would be comfortable in a variety of wearer’s ears. A problem that someone needs to solve to make a product like this is a high degree of variability in size and shape of people’s ears, especially in the concha bowl, the cup part of the ear that earphones sit into. Because depth and shape changes from person to person, you need to come up with a unique solution so that it hits all those points I mentioned before.” —Nicholas Murrells

Device for splitting light into components having different wave-length ranges and methods of use

Nan Li, Xiaobo Wang, Ye Cheng, ACEA Biosciences Inc.

“The patent describes a simple optical device which can separate incident light beam into multiple light beams with different wavelength range, i.e. different colors. This device is very simple, which is basically a cylindrical shape of glass block with a number of flat faces. When the incident light beam enters the beam splitter, certain wavelength of light will pass through and certain wavelength light will be reflected, which results in two “splitted” light beams. The property of the coating determines which wavelength of light it can split. The device described in the patent integrates multiple such beam splitters into a compact monolithic glass block. The shape of this glass block and the coating on each surface are specially designed to split an incident light beam into multiple light beams.

“When shining a white light beam to the “entering’’ surface of the device, you will immediately see that different color of light emitting from each surface. Such device can be used in analytical instruments such as a hematology analyzer or a flow cytometer for optical detection. Due to the extreme compactness of such device, it makes a portable hematology analyzer or flow cytometer become possible. Such portable hematology analyzer or flow cytometer is very small with the size like a shoebox and sits on the desk of a doctor’s office. When a blood test is needed, the doctor or nurse can just run the test in their office, and do not need to send the blood sample to the central lab anymore.” —Nan “Nancy” Li

Targeting microRNAs for the treatment of fibrosis

Nelson Chau, Regulus Therapeutics

What is being patented are the compositions and methods of altering the expression of the microRNA gene so that it stops the progression of fibrosis. This could lead to the treatment of fibrosis as the inventors have identified a drug target that has potential antibiotic properties. “If one finds a gene that is implicated in the disease pathogenesis, in this case microRNA and fibrosis, the next logical step is to test the causal relationship by modulation of such a gene in an animal disease model,” Chau said. “For example, if the inhibition of such a gene prevents the progression of fibrosis, this will provide strong support to further develop therapeutics based on targeting such a gene.”

Animal husbandry drawer caging

Dee L. Conger, Francesca McGuffie, Thomas M. Perazzo, Matthew D. D’Artenay, Innovive Inc.

These slidable “drawer” animal containment systems allow for ready access to small animals — such as mice, rats, hamsters and rabbits — but also include disposable cages and ventilation in some systems. Because a significant number of resources are needed to wash and sterilize multiple-use cages, the inventors of this product created something that would eliminate the need for regular washing and provide a more efficient way of housing a large number of small animals in a small space.

The makeup of this system is to have a disposable drawer, a base with four sides and a bottom portion with a rectangular structure. These systems can be used for transportation of animals and containment of animals for research and breeding. The thin walls that make up the enclosure are constructed from a polymer that is relatively thin but the inventors have made sure that the features of the cage will withstand gnawing damage from the animals. These cages could also reduce required storage space and maintain temperature within the cages.

Nasal continuous positive airway pressure device, nCPAP

Brian Pierro, Steven M. Harrington, Bruce K. Bridges, Douglas Gaylord, CareFusion 2200 Inc.

Continuous pressure therapy has been used for years to treat patients with breathing problems. However, the constant flow can adversely affect the patient’s breathing, causing them to work harder because of the exhalation against the incoming gas (from inhaling and exhaling out of the same tube).

The nCPAP system incorporates a more variable flow concept in combination to the separate channels for inhaling and exhaling gas to and from the patient. When breathing in, the gas comes from one tube, and when exhaling, the gas goes out another tube.

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