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Absorbent patent activity.

recent patents issued reflect growing trend towards general rather than application-specific patents; P&G, K-C continue to forge ahead

While the patent activity recorded in each week's Patent Gazette reflects only the possibilities of the market and its future direction - and certainly not the commercialization of each patent granted - the fact that the number of patents issued relating to nonwovens and absorbent products has remained high throughout the years continues to bode well for the future of the industry.

Actually, the number of patents issued has dropped in the past few years; in 1987, for example, nonwovens industry reviewed 75 patents issued in a six month period. This review includes only 62 patents, issued over the course of approximately one year. Yet despite what ends up to be a 59% drop in the total number of patents issued, the total is still respectable in comparison with other industries. Logically, the number of patents on absorbent products had to drop off at some point; the fact that there are still so many patents applied for - and received - is the more important consideration.

This year's patent survey also reflects a growing trend towards more general "absorbent article" or "disposable garment" patents rather than application-specific "baby diaper" or "sanitary napkin" patents. This survey also does not include more than 10 patents that were issued for even more general "nonwoven fabrics" or "structures," which did not mention absorbent products specifically, but could possibly have application in these areas. Interestingly, the majority of these patents were for multi-layer or composite structures.

Among the absorbent product manufacturers, Kimberly-Clark, Dallas, TX, and Procter & Gamble, Cincinnati, OH, continue neck and neck at the head of the category, although several others - including two Japanese companies - are closing in on that lead.

The "Who" - Companies Involved

Reflecting the vagaries of the absorbent product patent scene is a look at this year's patent review versus last year's in terms of individual company involvement. This year, Procter & Gamble, manufacturer of "Pampers" and "Luvs" disposable baby diapers, holds the lead among patents issued with 11%, holding steady with last year. However, "Huggies" manufacturer Kimberly-Clark, which last year had only 4% of patents issued, this year rebounds with almost 10%, keeping very close to P&G.

Interestingly, the majority of both companies' patents were for general "disposable diaper" or "absorbent product" patents with or without further descriptive features. The one exception was an application-specific adult incontinence patent issued to P&G.

Japanese manufacturer Uni-Charm also held almost 10% of the patents issued; this company also held the only training pants patent reviewed in the last year. Kao, also located in Japan, received 7% of patents issued, bringing Japan into contention for the largest number of patents received by a country outside the U.S.

Also checking in with 7% of the patents issued were diaper component manufacturer 3M, St. Paul, MN and Personal Products Company, New Brunswick, NJ. However, if Personal Products' sister company Chicopee (now Johnson and Johnson Advanced Materials Company) was also included, Personal Products' figure jumped to almost 10%.

The only European company that made the list was Molnlycke/Peaudouce, with 3% of patents issued. In an interesting sidenote, however, Hoechst AG, Frankfurt, Germany, well known for its involvement in roofing and other industrial nonwovens markets, was assigned a patent for "Tampon and Manufacture Thereof."

Segmented geographically - and decreasing from last year when 32% of patents were issued to companies or individuals based outside the U.S. - the U.S. held the highest percentage of patents issued, with 73%. Japan earned second place on the strength of patents issued to Uni-Charm and Kao, with 16%. Europe finished third with 7% of patents issued; Taiwan, Australia and South Africa each received 1% of total patents.

The "What" - Patents Issued

As mentioned above, the vast majority of patents issued were for a general absorbent article that may or may not include various "bells and whistles." Specifically, 56% of the patents issued fell into this category. This breaks down to 38% describing an absorbent article or disposable garment and 18% describing a disposable diaper of some sort.

To break this down further, in the "absorbent article" area, 29% of this category's 56% described simply an absorbent product; the other 71% described an "absorbent product with..." Likewise in the "disposable diaper category, the break down was 27% general disposable diaper patent/73% disposable diaper with ... (for a complete list of all patents issued, see accompanying sidebar).

Less than 1% of all patents issued described a baby diaper construction; this one patent was issued to an individual in Australia. Adult incontinence products fared slightly better with 3% of all patents issued, while sanitary protection products held their own with 16% of all patents issued (of this 16%, tampons held 20%).

Patents were also issued for components of absorbent products, including tapes and adhesives. Four specific categories - diaper films, tapes, adhesives and superabsorbent components - combined almost equally to receive 15% of patents issued.

In the "other" category, one patent was issued for a "Nonwoven Wipe Impregnating Composition" and two patents were issued for absorbent products for use in the food shipping or packaging industry.

Absorbent Patents Portfolio

The following is a list, in no particular order, of all the patents included in this survey

Nonwoven Fibrous Embossed Plastic Film (5,143,774) Leopoldo Cancio, Thomas C. Ryle, Pai-Chuan Wu, assignors to Clopay Corp., Cincinnati, OH. Filed 9/1/89.

Method Of Making Absorbent Particles (5,171,237) John F. Poccia, Kevin J. Ovans, Heinz Pieniak, assignors to Weyerhaeuser Co., Federal Way, WA. Filed 10/7/91.

Superabsorbent Article Having Relatively Thin Liquid Absorbent Portion (5,141,794) Candido J. Arroyo, assignors to AT&T Bell Lab, Murray Hill, NJ. Filed 11/3/89.

Attachment Tape For Foam-Backed Absorbent Product (5,128,187) Stephen P. Polski, assignors to Minnesota Mining & Manufacturing Co., St. Paul, MN. Filed 12/11/90.

Hot Melt Construction Adhesives For Disposable Soft Goods (5,149,741) Mark D. Alper, Marion M. Myers, assignors to Findley Adhesives. Inc. Wauwatosa, WI. Filed 9/20/91.

Disposable Article Multi-Line Construction Adhesive (5,037,411) David B, Malcolm, William L. Bunnelle, assignors to H.B. Fuller Co., Wilmington, DE. Filed 11/9/88.

Cohesive Tape System (5,085,655) Roger H. Mann, Carona Del Mar, Karl Joseph, Gary A. Avalon, assignors to Avery Dennison Corp., Pasadena CA. Filed 7/19/90.

Transparent Indicia Embossed Film (5,133,707) Wallace S. Rogers, Alan J. Sipinen, assignors to Minnesota Mining & Manufacturing Co., St. Paul, MN. Filed 7/26/90.

Low Friction High Release Coatings for Release Tapes (5,080,973) Thanh V. Nguyen, assignors to Avery Dennison Corp., Passadena, CA. Filed 5/22/90.

Baby's Diaper Of Adjustable Size (5,100,399) Sue Janson, Dana Pendlebury, Victoria, Australia. Filed 5/15/90.

Tampon And Manufacture Thereof (5,171,235) Dirk Theis, Walter Fester, assignors to Hoechst Aktiengesellschaft, Fed. Rep. of Germany. Filed 4/1/91.

Applicator For The Use Of Sanitary Goods Such As A Tampon, Etc. (5,135,475) Takashi Nakanishi, Yasushi Koizumi, Masayuki Kuboi, Yasushi Nakafukushima, Yoshinori Takahashi, Tatsuya Yamamoto, Yoshihiro Sakai, assignors to Kao Corp., Tokyo Japan. Filed 8/14/91.

Iced Food Shipping Container With Aqueous Liquid Absorbing Pad (5,135,787) Thomas I. Bair, assignors to E.I. DuPont de Nemours and Co., Wilmington DE. Filed 8/14/90.

Absorbent Pad And Method For Constructing Same (5,055,332) John C. Rhodes, Ronald R. Aljoe, Berne F. Ellers, assignors to Clean-Pak, Inc., St. Louis, MO. and Dry Forming Processes AB, Orkelljunga, Switzerland. Filed 9/18/89.

Nonwoven Wipe Impregnating Composition (5,141,803) David Pregozen, assignors to Sterling Drug, Inc., New York, NY. Filed 8/20/91.

Disposable Wearing Article Of Pants Type (5,163,932) Hironori Nomura, Takamitsu Igaue, Hirofumi Ohnishi, Tohru Sasaki, assignors to Uni-Charm Corp., Ehime, Japan. Filed 10/23/91.

Reusable Diaper And Construction Method Therefor (5,137,526) Fredrica Coates, Earlysville, VA. Filed 5/25/90.

Sanitary Napkin (5,133,705) Hirofumi Nakanishi, Hiromi Baba, Akira Sakurai, assignors to Kao Corp., Tokyo, Japan. Filed 5/22/91.

Sanitary Napkin Having An Attachment System Comprising Biased Hinges (5,125,918) Wassim Seidy, assignors to McNeil-PPC, Inc., Milltown, NJ. Filed 4/14/88.

Sanitary Feminine Napkin With A Mechanism For Optional Contouring (5,127,911) Eva Baharav, Carbondale, CO. Filed 5/1/89.

Sanitary Napkin (5,129,893) Agneta Thoren, assignors to Molnlycke AB, Gothenburg, Sweden. Filed 12/19/86.

Sanitary Napkin With Composite Cover (5,135,521) Thomas J. Luceri, Deborah J. Parr, assignors to McNeil PPC, Inc., Milltown, NJ. Filed 1/16/90.

Intermittent Batwing Adhesive System For Sanitary Napkin (5,133,704) Bruce Wheeler, assignors to McNeil-PPC, Inc., New Brunswick, NJ. Filed 11/2/90.

Feminine Sanitary Napkin (5,169,394) Lai D. Jean, Kaohsiung Hsien, Taiwan. Filed 8/27/91.

Sanitary Napkin (5,092,860) Raymond Pigneul, assignors to Kaysersberg, SA, Kaysersberg, France. Filed 12/7/90.

Absorbent Article (5,126,201) Daisuke Shiba, Norihiro Abe, Takotoshi Kobayashi, assignors to Kao Corp., Tokyo Japan. Filed 12/28/89.

Absorbent Article (5,069,677) Akira Sakurai, Yasuhiro Torimae, assignors to Kao Corp., Tokyo Japan. Filed 3/12/90.

Disposable Garments (5,171,239) Takamitsu Igaue, Katsuhide Kuramoto, Hironori Nomura, Tohru Sasaki, assignors to Uni-Charm Corp., Ehime, Japan. Filed 11/27/91.

Absorbent Insert (5,160,331) Ralph H. Forester, Arthur B. Finkelstein, assignors to Progeny Products Inc., St. Paul, MN. Filed 12/2/91.

Absorbent Fibrous Structure (5,128,193) Sheryl J. Anapol, Hien V Nguyen, assignors to Chicopee, New Brunswick, NJ. Filed 9/4/91.

Rebulkable Nonwoven Fabric (5,143,779) David D. Newkirk, Henry S. Ostrowski, assignors to Fiberweb North America, Inc., Simpsonville, SC. Filed 12/23/88.

Absorbent Structure (5,149,335) Stanley R. Kellenberger, Wen-Huey Shih-Schroeder, Anthony J. Wisneski, assignors to Kimberly-Clark Corp., Neenah WI. Filed 2/23/90.

Absorbent Products Containing Hydrogels With Ability To Swell Against Pressure (5,147,343) Stanley R. Kellenberger, assignors to Kimberly-Clark Corp., Neenah, WI. Filed 4/10/89.

Disposable Garment With Breathable Leg Cuffs (5,085,654) Kenneth B. Buell, assignors to The Procter & Gamble Co., Cincinnati, OH. Filed 4/22/91.

Disposable Absorbent Article With Combination Mechanical And Adhesive Tape Fastener System And Having Reserve Adhesive Tape For Improved Disposability (5,108,384) David J.K. Goulait, assignors to The Procter & Gamble Co., Cincinnati OH. Filed 9/11/90.

Absorbent And Cushioning Products And Their Manufacture (5,149,332) Richard R. Walton, Richard C. Walton, George E. Munchbach, Robert W Young. assignors to Richard R. Walton, Boston, MA. Filed 12/8/86.

Polymeric Web Compositions For Use In Absorbent Articles (5,149,333) Philip A. Sasse, assignors to Kimberly-Clark Corp., Neenah, WI. Filed 3/27/92.

Disposable, Self-Enveloping And Self-containing On-Demand, Superabsorbent Composite (5,135,792) John D. Hogan, assignors to Beth Israel Hospital Assoc., Inc., Boston, MA Filed 5/25/90.

Absorbent Panel For Body Fluid Absorptive Garments (5,154,714) Hironori Nomura, Takamitsu Igaue, Junji Shinohara, Tsutomu Shiroto, Hiroyuki Tanji, assignors to Uni-Charm Corp., Ehime, Japan. Filed 1/29/91.

Absorbent Article Having A Clasp And A Method Of Fastening The Absorbent Article To An Adjacent Garment (5,154,715) Thomas P. Van Iten, assignors to Kimberly-Clark Corp., Neenah, WI. Filed 7/26/91.

Absorbent Structure Having Multiple Canals (5,151,091) Frank S. Glaug, William B. Mattingly, assignors to McNeil PPC, Inc., Milltown, NJ. Filed 2/21/91.

Absorbent Articles Containing Interparticle Crosslinked Aggregates (5,149,334) Frank H. Lahrman, Charles J. Berg, Donald C. Roe, assignors to The Procter & Gamble Co., Cincinnati, OH. Filed 4/2/90.

Disposable Garment Having A Refastenable Adhesive Taping System (5,147,347) Yung-Hsiang Huang, Dave A. Soerens, Ruth A. Lachapell, Paul M. Linker, III, assignors to Kimberly-Clark Corp., Neenah, WI. Filed 1/17/91.

Absorbent Article With Dynamic Elastic Waist Feature Having A Predisposed Resilient Flexural Hinge (5,151,092) Kenneth B. Buell, Sandra H. Clear, Danielia T Falcone, assignors to The Procter & Gamble Co., Cincinnati, OH. Filed 8/22/91.

Disposable Absorbent Article Having Core Spacers (5,171,236) Kimberly A. Dreier, M. Elaine Freeland, assignors to The Procter & Gamble Co., Cincinnati, OH. Filed 12/20/91.

Absorbent Pad With Fibrous Facing Sheet (5,171,238) Richard E. Kajander, assignors to The Transzonic Co., Cleveland, OH. Filed 3/16/89.

Disposable Urine And Fecal Waste Containment Product (5,167,654) Ching-Yun M. Yang, assignors to Chicopee, New Brunswick, NJ. Filed 1/12/90.

Multiple Layer Absorbent Cores For Absorbent Articles (5,134,007) George S. Reising, Bruce H. Bergman, Sandra H. Clear, Susan E. Guinn, Rolando Gomez-Santiago, assignors to The Procter & Gamble Co., Cincinnati, OH. Filed 5/1/91.

Absorbent Pad With Helical Wicking (5,104,396) John A. Oatley, David G. Levy, both of South Africa. Filed 1/25/89.

High Efficiency Absorbent Articles For Incontinence Management (5,147,345) Gerald A. Young, Gary D. LaVon, Gregory W Taylor, assignors to The Procter & Gamble Co., Cincinnati, OH. Filed 8/12/91.

Urinary Incontinence Pad (5,074,855) Robert F. Rosenbluth, Jay A. Lenker, George R. Greene, assignors to Advanced Surgical Intervention, Inc. Filed 1/10/91.

Disposable Diapers (5,069,678) Masamitsu Yamamoto, Noriyuki Kimura, Yoshihisa Fujioka, Hiroki Yamamoto, Makoto Suekane, assignors to Uni-Charm Corp., Ehime, Japan. Filed 9/27/90.

Disposable Diaper (5,061,261) Migaku Suzuki, Satoshi Nozaki, Takeshi Kudo, Kazuaki Ohnishi, assignors to Uni-Charm Corp., Ehime, Japan. Filed 5/25/90.

Disposable Diaper (5,114,420) Takamitsu Igaue, Hideaki Kitaoka, Hiroyuki Tanji assignors to Uni-Charm Corp., Ehime, Japan. Filed 2/20/90.

Disposable Diaper With Improved Hook And Loop Fastener System (5,053,028) Anthony J. Zoia, Roland R. Midgley, Doanld L. Plaschko, William L. Melbye, Leigh E. Wood, Susan K Nestegard, John A. Miller, assignors to Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Co., St. Paul, MN. Filed 10/10/89.

Disposable Diapers, Absorbent Articles And Thermoplastic Sheet Material Having Improving Tape Adhesion (5,084,039) Leopoldo V. Cancio, Thomas R. Ryle, Robert J. Tomany, Pai-Chuan Wu, assignors to Clopay Corp., Cincinnati, OH. Filed 6/7/89.

Disposable Diaper With Tab Fastener (5,133,706) Robert Dixon, Yarmouth, MA. Filed 5/5/89.

Tearable Anti-Rash Diaper Construction (5,137,525) Jacob A. Glassman, Miami Beach, FL. Filed 11/29/90.

Diaper Having Disposable Chassis Assembly And Reuseable Elasticized Belt Removably Retained By Said Chassis Assembly (5,135,522) Anne M. Fahrenkrug, Patrick R. Lord, assignors to Kimberly-Clark Corp., Neenah, WI. Filed 11/7/91.

Highly Absorbent, Leak-Proof And Breathable Diaper (5,114,418) Harry Levy, Hollis Hills, NY. Filed 12/10/90.

Disposable Diaper With Thermoplastic Material Anchored Hook Fastener Portion (5,100,400) Kirit C. Mody, Bernard D. Campbell, assignors to Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Co., St. Paul, MN. Filed 11/17/89.

Disposable Diaper With Crotch Elastics And Lateral Sealing Coating (5,100,398) Andre Leroy, Yves Villez, assignors to Peaudouce, Linselles, France. Filed 7/27/88.
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Title Annotation:includes absorbent patents portfolio
Author:Noonan, Ellen
Publication:Nonwovens Industry
Date:Aug 1, 1993
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