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Diaper doings: plenty of patents in personal products.

Diaper Doings: Plenty Of Patents In Personal Products

The race to stay ahead of the competition with newer, better and stronger technology continued unabated this year in the absorbent products arena, with renewed competition between the big two - Procter & Gamble, Cincinnati, OH, and Kimberly-Clark, Dallas, TX. Other smaller suppliers were also highly visible, although foreign involvement in the U.S. patent books held steady, increasing only slightly from last year's figures. This year's survey includes 80 absorbent product patents awarded in the past year; information is taken from the weekly Official Gazette issued by the U.S. Patents and Trademark Office.

The trend towards general patents for a variety of end uses also continued, with most of the patents surveyed not describing a particular end use, but a more generic description, such as an absorbent article "for use in disposable articles" or an absorbent structure "for absorbing bodily fluids." Patents for absorbent structures or articles captured 44% of all patents surveyed.

A Look At Categories

Among specific end use, diapers topped the list, with 28% of the patents examined, a figure up significantly from last year's 20%. Of these, the majority (64%) described a diaper with some type of particular design element or unique attribute. These included a disposable diaper with an "improved fastener attachment," "a disposable fecal compartmenting diaper," a diaper with an "integral changing pad and disposal container" and a disposable diaper with "longitudinal superabsorbent concentration gradient" (for a complete list of all patents surveyed, see the accompanying sidebar).

Still in the category of diapers, 23% described a plain "diaper" or "disposable diaper," while the rest described some part or attachment for the diaper.

Both sanitary protection and adult incontinence were not as prevalent this year, with sanitary protection with only 8% of all patents surveyed, down from 10% last year. Of these, two-thirds described sanitary napkins, while the remainder defined new tampon technology.

Adult incontinence also fell to only 3%, a decrease from last year's 5%.

Surgical patents also played a small role in the literature of the year, with 4% of patents surveyed. Patents in the surgical area included a surgical mat in a floorcovering application, an absorbent elastomeric wound dressing and a surgical sponge.

In the more general "absorbent article" category, results were similar to that of disposable diapers, with 49% of all patents describing an absorbent article and some type of attachment or added feature. These included an absorbent article with..." a cup-shaped configuration," a "unitary waistcap and waistband" or "protective pockets."

One other interesting point to note was that, for the first time, five patents described a particular environmental attribute within the title of the patent. These included "Disposable diaper having fastening means that are degradable," "Environmental absorbent dressing," "Biodegradable incontinence device with embedded granules," "Biodegradable disposable diaper" and "Disposable articles comprising compostable components."

The Clash Of The Titans

This year's patent survey showed a drastic reversal from last year's survey, with 1991 results showing Procter & Gamble holding 21% of patents surveyed, up from last year's 15%. Kimberly-Clark, meanwhile, fell from last year's figure of 17% to 13%.

An interesting observation regarding patents issued to both companies shows a surprising dearth of baby diaper-specific patents. Among P&G's portfolio, none of the patents issued specifically described a disposable baby diaper. Two described sanitary napkin technology, while every other one detailed some type of absorbent article, either alone or with a variety of added features.

Kimberly-Clark, likewise, had the majority of its patent literature describing absorbent articles with a range of end uses or "bells and whistles." The two exceptions were a "disposable diaper with an improved mechanical fastening system" and "seam construction in a disposable training pant, incontinence garment or diaper."

Interestingly, in third place among the survey of U.S. patents issued was a foreign company. Molnlycke, Gothenburg, Sweden, emerged with 8% of all patents surveyed this year. Although this does include one patent assigned to Molnlycke-owned private label diaper manufacturer Peaudouce, this is a remarkably high number for a foreign company to have in U.S. patent literature. The Japanese contingent remained small, with only three patents - one each from Kao, Uni-Charm and a private individual.

Other companies gaining one or more absorbent technology patents throughout the year included Chicopee (2), Kendall (2), RMed (1), Kem-Wove (1), 3M (5), J&J (1), Weyerhaeuser (2) and H.B. Fuller (1). A full 18% of patents surveyed (25% if foreign patents are included) came from various individuals - not assigned to any particular company - working on their own ideas for a better solution.

Absorbent Patents Portfolio Following is a complete list, in no particular order, of patents included in this survey.

Disposable Sanitary Articles (5,015,245); Isao Noda, assignor to Procter & Gamble, Cincinnati, OH. Filed 4/30/90.

Manufacturing Method For Disposable Clothing Items (5,034,007); Takamitsu Igaue, Yasushi Inoue, assignors to Uni-Charm, Ehime, Japan. Filed 2/23/90.

Washable Diaper With Absorbent Liner (5,019,068); Sam Perez, Susan Malinowski, assignors to Diana Dolls Fashions, Stoney Creek, Canada. Filed 2/5/90.

Tapeless Super-Absorbent Disposable Diaper (5,019,069); Walter Klemp, Houston, TX. Filed 6/30/89.

Flushable Diaper Device And Method (5,026,363); Darin Pratt, assignor to RMed International, Delta, CO. Filed 12/27/89.

Disposable Elastic Structure (4,977,011); Carol Smith, assignor to Weyerhaeuser, Tacoma, WA. Filed 9/19/88.

Disposable Diaper With Improved Fastener (4,973,326); Leigh Wood, John Miller, Alan Sipinen, Susan Nestegard, assignors to 3M, St. Paul, MN. Filed 11/30/87.

Reusable Multi-Layered Diaper (4,978,345); Craig Holliday, Deborah Holliday, Morrow, OH. Filed 8/28/89.

Diaper With Integral Changing Pad And Disposal Container (4,964,859); Ruth Feldman, Bryn Mawr, PA. Filed 7/28/89.

Diaper With Walst Band Elastic (4,968,313); Reinhardt Sabee, Appleton, WI.

Disposable Diaper With Longitudinal Superabsorbent Concentration Gradient (4,997,428); Clemens Linnebur, Krzysztof Malowaniec, assignors to Paul Hartman Aktiengesellschaft, Heidenheim, Germany. Filed 10/27/88.

Disposable Fecal Compartmenting Diaper (4,968,312); Sarbuland Khan, Los Angeles, CA.

Disposable Absorbent Article Having Elastically Extensible Topsheet (5,037,416); Patrick Allen, Mary Freeland, assignors to P&G, Cincinnati, OH.

Absorptive Device With Protective Pockets (4,939,017); Charles Foxman, assignor to Medpat, Maryland Heights, MO.

Tampon (5,004,467); Alfred Hinzmann, Timour Shu, Wojciech Drewnowski, Peter Preisner, assignors to Hauni Richmond, Richmond, VA.

Feminine Tampon Coated With Beeswax (4,952,211); Dale Snider, Pompano Beach, FL. Filed 9/12/88.

Disposable Diaper (4,998,929); Margareta Bjorksund, Urban Widlund, assignors to Molnlycke AB, Gothenburg, Sweden.

Absorbent Article (5,023,124); Takatoshi Kobayashi Tochigi, assignor to Kao Corp., Tokyo, Japan. Filed 8/21/90.

Elasticized Absorbent Article (5,034,008); Stephen Breitkopf, assignor to Chicopee, New Brunswick, NJ. Filed 11/7/89.

Absorbent Article Having Unitary Waistcap And Waistband (5,026,364); Anthony Robertson, assignor to P&G, Cincinnati, OH.

Disposable Urinary Pad (5,030,229); Ching-Yun Yang, assignor to Chicopee, New Brunswick, NJ. Filed 1/12/90.

Absorbent Garment (4,995,873); Jackilyn Knight, New South Wales, Australia, Filed 6/9/89.

Disposable Article Construction (5,024,667); David Malcolm, William Bunnelle, assignors to H.B. Fuller Licensing and Financing, Wilmington, DE. Filed 11/7/88.

Absorbent Nonwoven Webs (4,985,298); Lee Buckley, Thomas Insley, assignors to 3M, St. Paul, MN.

Absorbent Package (4,980,215); Keith Schonbrun, assignor to Aldine Technologies, New York, NY. Filed 8/26/88.

Surgical Mat With Disposable Cover (5,028,468); Alfred Taylor, assignor to Pandel, Inc., Catersville, GA. Filed 9/27/89.

Absorbent Elastomeric Wound Dressing (4,957,795); John Riedel, assignor to 3M, St. Paul, MN.

Surgical Sponge And Method Of Making (5,041,103); Vytautas Rupinskas, assignor to Kendall, Mansfield, MA.

Absorbent Articles With Multiple Layer Absorbent Layers (4,988,344); George Reising, Bruce Bergman, Sandra Clear, Susan Guinn, Rolando Gomez-Santiago, assignors to P&G, Cincinnati, OH. Filed 5/24/88.

Disposable Absorbent Article With Combination Mechanical And Adhesive Tape Fastener System (5,019,065); Charles Scripps, assignor to P&G, Cincinnati, OH.

Seam Construction In A Disposable Training Pant, Incontinence Garment Or Diaper (4,938,753); Paul Van Gompel, Jody Suprise, Robert Schleinz, assignors to Kimberly-Clark, Neenah, WI.

Disposable Diaper With Improved Mechanical Fastening System (5,019,073); Thomas Roessler, Bruce Siebers, assignors to K-C, Neenah, WI. Filed 12/20/88.

Absorbent Article Having A Cup-Shaped Configuration (5,032,121); Patti Mokry, assignor to K-C, Neenah, WI.

Decoupled Sanitary Napkin (5,007,906); Thomas Osborn III, Deborah Schmitz, assignors to P&G, Cincinnati, OH. Filed 10/27/89.

Thin, Flexible Sanitary Napkin (5,009,653); Thomas Osborn III, assignor to P&G, Cincinnati, OH.

Absorbent Article With Elastic Liner For Waste Material Isolation (4,990,147); M. Elaine Freeland, assignor to P&G, Cincinnati, OH. Filed 9/2/88.

Absorbent Article (4,994,038); Kenneth Buell, assignor to P&G, Cincinnati, OH.

Disposable Sanitary Articles (5,026,589); Lee Schectman, assignor to P&G, Cincinnati, OH.

Absorbent Pad For An Ostomy Appliance (5,013,307); Marna Broida, North Kingstown, RI. Filed 8/2/89.

Incontinent Pad With High Absorbent Packet (5,013,309); Joseph Baigas, Jr., John Haynes, Jr., assignors to Kem-Wove, Charlotte, NC. Filed 4/24/89.

Disposable Diaper (5,024,672); Leif Widlund, Molndal, Sweden.

Absorbent Structure For Absorbing Body Fluids (4,994,037); Leo Bernardin, assignor to K-C, Neenah, WI. Filed 7/9/90.

Absorbent Article Having A Fluid Transfer Member (4,973,325); Earle Sherrod, Frederich Lassen, assignors to K-C, Neenah, WI.

Detachable Two Piece Absorbent Garment (4,964,860); William Gipson, Michael Mason, Thomas Hensler, assignors to P&G, Cincinnati, OH. Filed 7/18/90.

Absorbent Articles With Rapid Acquiring Absorbent Cores (4,988,345); George Reising, assignor to P&G, Cincinnati, OH. Filed 5/24/88.

Sanitary Napkin (5,037,417); Maj Ternstrom, Roy Hansson, assignors to Molnlycke AB, Gothenburg, Sweden. Filed 12/17/87.

Absorption Body Intended For Disposable Articles Such As Diapers, Sanitary Napkins And The Like (5,043,206); Ingela Ternstrom, assignor to Molnlycke AB, Goteborg, Sweden.

Disposable Articles Comprising Compostible Components (5,037,410); Robert Zimmerman, Tamela Viers, Columbus, OH. Filed 8/8/90.

Disposable Diaper Having Fastening Means That Are Degradable (4,985,024); Alan Sipinen, assignor to 3M, St. Paul, MN.

Diaper With Elasticized Crotch (5,037,415); Andre Leroy, Bernard Deleu, Alain Naze, assignors to Peaudouce, Linselles, France. Filed 11/30/89.

Environmental Absorbent Dressing (4,979,946); Thomas Gilman, assignor to Kendall, Boston, MA.

Absorbent Flexible Board (4,992,324); Emile Dube, assignor to Johnson & Johnson, Montreal, Canada. Filed 9/12/89.

Wiping Fabric (5,026,587); Jared Austin, Joseph Miller, Robert Hyslop, assignors to James River, Richmond, VA. Filed 10/13/89.

Absorbent Article Having A Nonwoven Frictional Surface For Holding The Article In Place And Method Of Use (5,011,480); Anthonette Gossens, Mary Schwer, assignors to K-C, Neenah, WI.

Garment With Protective Elastic Leg Dams (5,019,067); Frances Simmons, assignor to Gerber Childrenswear, Boston, MA. Filed 4/13/89.

Absorbent Article Having A Hydrophilic Flow-Modulating Layer (5,037,409); Franklin Chen, Andrew Huntoon, Duane Uitenbroek, Anthony Wisneski, assignors to K-C, Neenah, WI. Filed 7/12/90.

Diaper (4,994,052); Keiko Kimura. Tokyo, Japan. Filed 6/27/89.

Biodegradable Incontinence Device With Embedded Granules (4,944,734); Donald Wallach, assignor to Micro Vesicular Systems, Nashua, NH.

Biodegradable Disposable Diaper (4,964,857); Charles Osborn, Waxahachie, TC. Filed 10/23/89.

Absorbent Structure Designed For Absorbing Body Fluids (5,009,650); Leo Bernardin, assignor to K-C, Neenah, WI.

Rear Fastening Disposable Diaper (4,988,346); Jason Pfefferkorn, assignor to Jason Pfefferkorn, Ronnie Swaim and James Evans, El Cajon, CA. Filed 6/5/89.

Absorbent Article Containing An Anhydrous Deodorant (5,037,412); Richard Tanzer, Mary Bruemmer, Anthonette Gossen, assignors to K-C, Neenah, WI. Filed 10/27/89.

Absorbent Article Having An Attachable Undergarment Protective Sheet (5,037,418); Hugo Kons, Susan Paul, assignors to K-C, Neenah, WI.

Disposable Diaper That Is Fastened By Contact Between Overlapping Adhesive Patches (5,019,072); Stephen Polski, assignor to 3M, St. Paul, MN.

Disposable Absorbent Article Having Improved Barrier Leg Cuffs (5,021,051); Takashi Hiuke, assignor to P&G, Cincinnati, OH. Filed 4/6/89.

Self-Contained Disposable Diaper (5,037,414); John Booth, assignor to Edward Gutierrez, Grand Prairie, TX. Filed 2/6/90.

Disposable Absorbent Article Having Improved Leg Cuffs (5,032,120); Mary Freeland, Patrick Allen, assignors to P&G, Cincinnati, OH. Filed 3/9/89.

Absorbent Panel Structure (5,021,050); Michael Iskra, assignor to Weyerhaeuser, Federal Way, WA. Filed 12/11/89.

Absorbent Articles Containing Mechanical Pulp And Polymeric Gelling Material (5,019,063); Mario Marsan, Leonard Thompson, assignors to P&G, Cincinnati, OH. Filed 10/30/89.

Disposable Absorbent Article (5,004,465); Ingela Ternstrom, Mats Eriksson, assignors to Molnlycke AB, Gothenburg, Sweden.

Absorbent Article Having A Waistpanel (5,019,066); Mary Freeland, Ted Blaney, assignors to P&G, Cincinnati, OH. Filed 5/18/89.

Fibrous Absorption Body For Use In Disposable Articles (4,980,226); Maud Hellgren, Henry Zoller, assignors to Molnlycke AB, Gothenburg, Sweden. Filed 7/10/85.

Web Material (4,950,526); Michael Singleton, assignor to K-C Ltd., Near Maidstone, England.

Training Pants (4,960,414); Sandra Meyer, Fresno, CA. Filed 9/18/89.

Undergarment Shield (5,019,070); Margaret Ruben, Saratoga, NY. Filed 3/1/88.

Adjustable Child Garment (4,981,480); Meloday Gaudit, Annette Beauregard, Teresa Topping, Canada. Filed 5/31/90.

Attached Wrapper Flaps For The Considerate Disposal Of Infant Disposal Diapers (4,968,311); Robert Chickering, William Barabino, assignors to Personal Hygiene Research Associates, North Reading, MA. Filed 10/2/89.

Self Attaching Fastener Part Notably For All-In-One Disposable Diaper And Process For Manufacturing It (4,994,054); Raymond Pigneul, Remyu Ruppel, Jean Brellmann, assignors to Kaysersberg SA, Kaysersberg, France.

Diaper (5,037,413); Muhammed Haque, Forest Hills, NY. Filed 3/22/89.
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Title Annotation:includes absorbent patents portfolio; nonwoven fabrics industry patents
Author:Noonan, Ellen
Publication:Nonwovens Industry
Date:Nov 1, 1991
Previous Article:A first for nonwovens: NSF grant to NC State.
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