Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The Bigger Picture

Since 2005, the Techtera cluster, an innovation cluster centered in the Rhone-Alpes (Lyon) region of France with a focus on textiles and flexible materials, commissions a review of scientific publications and patents in the textile industry.  The most recent version of the study, Who Patents What – In the Textile World, was released in December 2013.  While the details of the study were only shared with members of the cluster, the following information has become public. 

From the period of 2005 – 2012, the study identified 190,000 patents that were issued worldwide for textiles and composites.  Asian countries (mainly China, Japan and South Korea) accounted for 74% of patent applications.  The US accounted for 13%.

Manufacturers filed for 57% of these patents.  Universities filed for 12%.  The majority of University patents were filed by Chinese Universities.

In the period, about 40,000 applications were filed in the Health and Beauty sectors, 36,000 in the Transportation sectors, 20,000 patents each in the Protection and the Construction sectors.

The study also pointed out that in the period, there were over 85,000 scientific papers and conferences related to textiles and composites.  Chinese universities are the top publishers.

 Below is a summary of selected patents that have been recently issued in textile related classification codes:

Impact-attenuation members and products containing such members:  A tubular spring like structure that redirects energy perpendicular to the initial direction of the force.  Patent #:  US 8650774.  Inventors:  Aveni,  Assignee:  Nike, Inc.

Article of footwear having a sole structure with perimeter and central elements:  A sole structure for footwear that includes a perimeter element with central elements, which may be fluid-filled chambers. The central elements can be fitted into the perimeter elements.  The arrangement allows the assembly of soles with central chambers of varying compressibility.  Patent:   8650775.  Inventor:  Peyton.  Assignee:  Nike, Inc.

Channeled sole for an article of footwear:  A sole structure comprising an outsole having a ground-contacting layer and a channel that projects upward from the ground-contacting layer. Patent:  8650776.  Inventors:  Hazenberg and Schindler.  Assignee:  Nike, Inc. 

Article of footwear having a flat knit upper construction or other upper construction.  Shoe with a flat knitted textile based upper.  Patent #:  8650916.  Inventors:  Dua and Thomas.  Assignee:  Nike, Inc.

Front closure bra with crisscrossing straps:  A bra comprising a pair of breast cups, a front opening closure connected to the breast cups, a pair of generally triangular side panels, each of the generally triangular side panels containing vertical boning connecting each of the generally triangular side panels to a different breast cup; a pair of crisscrossing straps, each crisscrossing strap coupled to the top of the vertical boning on one generally triangular side panel and the bottom of the boning on an opposite generally triangular side panel.  Patent:  8651917.  Inventors:  Lopez and Lopez.  Not Assigned.

Advanced engineered garment:  A dual layer under body armor hybrid fabric garment.  The outer layer is made of fire retardant materials for protection while the inner layer is an elastic fabric (for comfort) also made of fire retardant materials.  Patent:  8656512.  Inventor:  Rock,  Assignee:  Mmi-Ipco, LLC.

Sports glove with impact force attenuation system:  A force attenuation system for a sports (baseball) glove.  The force attenuation system includes a pair of foam layers surrounding a fluid-filled chamber. This configuration allows the force attenuation system to reduce forces that a hand experiences when catching a ball with the glove.
Patent:  8656513.  Inventor:  Plocher.  Assignee:  Nike, Inc.

Padding system:  A modular padding system for outdoor garments that is removable, replaceable, comfortable and secure while maintaining an aesthetically neat and trim look. Patent:  8656514.  Inventor:  Neuron. Assignee:  Patagonia, Inc.

Performance apparel with flexible portion:  An athletic garment may comprising multiple layers where each layer is patterned to provide specific functions.  This allows for garments that can be customized for multiple parameters such as fit or range of motion.   Patent:  8656515.  Inventor:  Newton.  Assignee:  Reebok International Limited.

Children's clothing with hidden harness and exterior handholds:  An article of clothing for children with a hidden harness attached to the interior of the clothing structure and exterior handholds attached to the hidden harness. When a handhold is pulled, the force is spread over the entire hidden harness allowing the force of the grasp to be evenly distributed across the child's frame. The handholds also provide a place of attachment for an extension tether strap. The clothing structure used may be a full body garment, upper body garment, lower body garment or infant garment.  Patent:  8656516.  Inventors:  Rawlings and Reinhardt.  Not Assigned.

Article of footwear including a woven strap system.  A shoe with a woven strap system.  The sole is formed with multiple straps attached to the edge of the sole.  A footbed is placed on top of the sole and a shoe liner/interior component is placed on top of the foot bed.  The straps are fitted into outside of the interior component and are then held in place by the shoelaces.  In effect, the shoelaces hold the entire shoe together.  Patent:  8656606Inventor:  Hooper.  Assignee:  Nike, Inc.

Soles for shoes or other footwear having compartments with computer processor-controlled variable pressure:  An athletic shoe, with a shoe sole with two fluid filled compartments, connected in such a way that the force of the step is cushioned in an anatomically appropriate way.  This shoe is seriously engineered.  Patent:  8656607.  Inventor:  Ellis.  Assignee:  Anatomic Research, Inc. 

Article of footwear with a sole structure having fluid-filled support elements:  A shoe with two fluid filled chamber inserts.  Patent:  8656608.  Inventor:  Goodwin and Crowley.  Assignee:  Nike, Inc. 

Articles with retractable traction elements:  Retractable cleats for use in a shoe.  Patent:  8656610.  Inventor:  Baucom and Gerber.  Assignee:  Nike, Inc.

Articles with retractable traction elements:  Sister patent to the above patent.  Patent:  8656611.  Inventor:  Baucom and Gerber.  Assignee:  Nike, Inc.

Jim Carson is a principal of RB Consulting, Inc. and a registered patent agent.  He has over 30 years of experience across multiple industries including the biotechnology, textile, computer, telecommunications, and energy sectors.  RB Consulting, Inc. specializes in providing management, prototyping, and regulatory services to small and start-up businesses.  He can be reached via email at or by phone at (803) 792-2183.

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