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Absorbent product patent portfolios: absorbent patent activity continued unabated in 1989, with Kimberly-Clark once again leading the way; the focus shifted to elastic components as the concentration in patent literature.

Absorbent Product Patent Portfolios

As the decade draws to a close, baby and adult diaper and absorbent product manufacturers are looking ahead while attempting to stretch their technology and their dollars - literally. Elasticity surfaced as the most important component of absorbent products this year, according to the random 29 patents Nonwovens Industry looked at throughout the past eight months.

One-third of the absorbent product patents contained some type of elastic attachment or outer covering. Likewise, more than half of the diaper patents surveyed utilized elastic, whether it was contained in waist panels, flaps or side pockets.

Kimberly-Clark led the way in patent activity among the patents surveyed, being awarded nine patents (31%). P&G came in next with four patents.

Overall, patents for absorbent products for multi purpose use outdistanced the individual categories of diapers, incontinence pads and sanitary napkins in the last year. Flexibility seemed to be another key factor in most of the patents surveyed.

K-C Stretching The Lead

Throughout the past several months, Kimberly-Clark has been extremely active in building its U.S. absorbent products patent portfolio. For the most part, it appeared K-C was concentrating on absorbent product patents in general, rather than specific patents on diapers, sanitary napkins or incontinence pads. Of the nine patents the company acquired, five of them were for an absorbent product. Among these were:

Disposable Garment Having Elastic Outer Cover and Integrated Absorbent Insert Structure (4,834,738): This is a form-fitting, self adjusting disposable garment that has a breathable elastomeric nonwoven outer cover. The absorbent insert throughout the garment has a liquid impermeable barrier and a liquid permeable bodyside liner. Supplemental front and rear waist attachments allow for unrestricted stretchability and leg elastics made of a breathable nonwoven fabric provide cushioned, clothlike comfort for the wearer.

Disposable Absorbent Garment Having Elastic Outer Cover and Absorbent Insert Structure Integrated Therein Using Stress-Release Means (4,834,736): This patent is similar to the previous patent; however, also offered in this garment is a stress release function. The front and rear waist attachment zones offer a function controlling the degree of elongation and contraction of the outer cover while maintaining the integration of insert to the cover.

Form-Fitting Self Adjusting Disposable Garment With Elasticized Absorbent Structure (4,850,990): This involves a disposable absorbent garment with elasticized leg openings, an absorbent structure and a liner to reduce leakage. The liner has a pair of elastic elements along the entire length of the crotch portion and spaced inwardly from the lateral edges, creating a trough that prevents sideways leaking.

Elasticized Waist Integration Member For Disposable Absorbent Garments (4,808,176): It is a disposable garment with a breathable elastomeric nonwoven outer cover and an absorbent insert. The insert attaches to the waist with elastic, allowing the upper border to stretch independently with the attached outer cover, while the lower border remains fixed in place attached to the end of the insert.

Absorbent Article Having a Hydrophobic Transport Layer (4,798,603): This is an absorbent article that has a body of hydrophilic material, a liquid permeable topsheet superposed in facing relation with the body and a less hydrophilic liquid permeable transport layer between.

Also important in the analysis of K-C's recent patents is the fact that four out of the five above patents have some mention of elastic in the title. This company, generally on the cutting edge of new technology, has determined that elastic alterations in diapers may play an important role in the future and is preparing for that possibility.

Kimberly-Clark has also done some patent work in the diaper and sanitary napkin categories. Again, both of K-C's diaper patents mention elastic attachments as integral parts of the diaper. The patents were:

Diaper Article With Elasticized Waist Panel (4,861,652): This diaper has an elastic nonwoven fibrous web material connected to the waistband portion of the diaper. The elastic has at least one layer of nonwoven fabric secured to a melt blown fibrous layer.

Diapers With Elasticized Side Pockets (4,846,825): This is a form-fitting diaper with an outer cover, front and rear waistband portions and elasticized side pockets.

Nonwoven Pad Cover With Fluid Masking Properties (4,801,494): This is a nonwoven pad that absorbs human exudate. It is made of a pigmented spunbonded web with an open area between 25-50% and a weight between 0.28 and 0.5 oz. sq. yard.

Anatomically Shaped. Self-Aligning Sanitary Protection Device (4,804,380): This is sanitary pad that has a flattened front portion and raised back portion that is folded in the center. The pad is designed to anatomically fit the female body.

The Foreign Factor

The foreign contingent in the U.S. patent market represented 24% of the patents surveyed. Two of these, both from Kao, came from Japan, while the rest of the overseas array were from European companies. Among those represented were Beghin-Say, France; Molnlycke, Sweden; Bonar Carelle, Scotland; and Peaudouce, France.

Foreign patents included:

Absorbent Article (4,851,284), Kao: This is a garment with an absorbent layer, a leakproof layer, a nonwoven fabric layer and a surface layer that consists of 50-100%, in weight, of conjugate fibers. The fibers are composed of a resin that has a melting point higher than 100 [degrees] C.

Sanitary Napkin (4,798,601), Kao: It is a sanitary napkin with a liquid impermeable and a liquid permeable layer with an absorber in between. The absorbent has two layers; the second smaller layer lies on top of the first. The leakproof material surrounds the first absorber and part of the second. The pad is attached at the first and second absorber, the surface and the leakproof material and the leakproof material and the first or second absorber.

Diaper With Elastic On Outer Cover (4,850,989), Peaudouce: This diaper consists of a flexible outer film that is impermeable to liquids, adhesive strips on the inside surface, an absorbent pad on the inside surface, an outer film and a flexible inner film that is permeable to liquids. The diaper is fastened around the body of the wearer and two flexible tapes on the outer surface of the outer film attach it.

Absorbent Structure For Disposable Articles (4,806,408), Beghin-Say: This is an absorbent for hygienic disposables. The encased pad has one layer of fluffed cellulosic material that does not contain improved retention additives and an internal reinforcement layer that is made of a moisture-resistant nonwoven and an absorbent with improved liquid retention additive particles. The reinforcement sheet is glued to the absorbent layer and the pad is placed between a permeable and impermeable sheet.

Absorbent Article Such as a Diaper or Incontinence Protector (4,828,555), Molnlycke: This is an elongated absorbent article that has an absorption layer and a top layer that serves as a spacer between the wearer and the absorption layer. Surrounding the wet area is a high flexural resistance so that when it is worn, the article is curved in a basin-like configuration around the point of wetness.

Absorbent Article (4,857,065), Bonar Carelle: This absorbent product is made of an absorbent, part of which is overlaid with a nonwoven material. Its first phase is in an uplifted state and the second phase is in a lofted state that has been heat treated to avoid any crimps in the fiber.

Around The Patent Globe

While Kimberly-Clark may have been busier than most in the patent race, many other companies were also concentrating on increasing their patent profiles through 1989. An array of absorbent and diaper patents were granted in the past year. Patents that were approved for disposable diapers include:

Disposable Diaper Having An Improved Leg Conforming Cuff (4,816,026), Procter & Gamble: This is a disposable diaper that has an absorbent encased within a covering layer. The diaper has a cuff and at least three individual and uninterconnected elastic members that are associated with the cuff. The cuff's first layer overlaps a portion of the cross section.

Disposable Absorbent Article Having Elasticized Flaps Provided With Leakage Resistant Portions (4,808,178), P&G: It is a disposable diaper that has an outer covering, an absorbent core with peripheral edges and several flaps with a fixed edge connected to the outer covering. The flaps have a leak resistant contact surface. The diaper also has elastic that contracts the flap material.

Diaper With Removable Absorbent Pad (4,834,737): This is a disposable waste-containing diaper that has a liquid impervious backsheet with a hole in it. The absorbent pad also has a hole in it that lines up with the hole in the backsheet. An absorbent pull-through insert, which is smaller than the absorbent pad, is used in wiping the wearer when it is pulled through the hole.

A resilient bag of plastic film with an open end and a closed end is placed around the hole. Upon removing the bag, which contains any waste from the wearer, the absorbent pull through simultaneously wipes the wearer's body and encloses the bag portion, preventing any contact with the soiled portion of the diaper.

Disposable Diaper Having Shirred Ears (4,857,067), 3M: It is a contoured diaper that has a liquid permeable top sheet, an impermeable backsheet and an absorbent in between. Both sheets have a formed pair of back ears with a fastening tab. At least one of the back ears is shirred in an area that can be aligned with the tab.

Disposable Diaper And Wet Wipe Pad Package (4,808,175): A reversible, moisture-proof bag is fastened to the diaper as a moisture proof backing. The bag contains wet wipe pads and can be reversed to receive the diaper. The bag is sealable to contain moisture in the wet wipes and to contain the soiled diaper and wipes.

Patents for absorbent products included:

High Density Absorbent Members Having Lower Density and Lower Basis Weight Acquisition Zones (4,834,735), P&G: This is comprised of a mixture of fibrous material and absorbent gelling material, a storage zone in the deposition zone and an acquisition zone with a density and weight basis greater than zero.

Absorbent Pad With Moisture Barrier Strips (4,804,379), Kendall: It is a disposable absorbent pad with a fluid impervious backsheet, a fluid pervious top sheet, an absorbent pad in between and an elongated strip of fluid impervious material. The strip has one side secured to the backsheet in the crotch area and the other side overlying the pad in the crotch area to prevent leakage.

Multipurpose Disposable Absorbent Pad (4,813,944): This three layered absorbent pad has a top layer of nonwoven open pored adsorbent material, a second layer of an absorbent material and a third layer of liquid impervious material. The edges are joined to form a peripheral seal that encloses a layer of foam material adhered to the underside of the third layer.

Among the patents issued for incontinence products were:

Disposable Absorbent Articles For Incontinent Individuals (4,842,593), P&G: This is a disposable absorbent article that absorbs wastes and prevents diaper rash. It contains a liquid impervious backing sheet, a liquid impervious topsheet, an absorbent core and a top sheet comprised of fiber material. It also features a pH control system that consists of an acidic buffering agent.

Absorptive Device For Incontinent Patients (4,814,965), Medtex Products: This absorption device is designed for incontinent patients and is made of a liquid permeable absorptive member that has an outer facing layer of interwoven plastic fibers designed in a quilt-like fashion.

In the sanitary napkin area, patents included:

Coextruded Apertured Film Sanitary Napkin Cover (4,806,411): This is a fluid pervious polymeric film with several small apertures. The upper layer is made up of a polymeric material that accounts for at least 80% of its weight. The second layer is made up at least 80% by a second polymeric material. The first material has a melting point higher than the second and the film has an open area from 20-70%.

Sanitary Napkin Or Like Article Having An Integral Carrying/Disposal Envelope (4,857,066), Weyerhaeuser: This sanitary napkin has a fluid absorbing pad with a moisture permeable wrapper that encloses the pad. The pad contains a flexible moisture impervious barrier that is bonded to the undergarment facing surface. It also contains an envelope having longitudinal and transverse edges with dimensions similar to the pad.
COPYRIGHT 1989 Rodman Publications, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1989 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
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Author:Noonan, Ellen
Publication:Nonwovens Industry
Date:Nov 1, 1989
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