Johnson & Johnson: Recent Eye Care and Vision Innovations

By Steve Brachmann
October 8, 2013

Alex Gorsky, CEO of Johnson & Johnson, at the 2013 annual meeting of shareholders.

Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ) is an American corporation dedicated to the development of pharmaceutical and cosmetic products. Headquartered in New Brunswick, NJ, this company is renowned as one of the most financially stable corporations globally, and it is regularly listed among the Fortune 500. Although many associate J&J with consumer brands like Tylenol and Band-Aids, the corporation is also involved in the fight against prostate cancer with its Zytiga medication. The company also has a thriving medical devices trade, as is reported in this piece by the Motley Fool.

IPWatchdog has featured J&J before in our Companies We Follow series, the last time back in May 2013 (see Johnson & Johnson articles). We now returning again to see what to expect in the near future from this American pharmaceutical developer. As always, we’ve grabbed a number of interesting patent applications and issued patents from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office which are assigned to the company. Exploring these gives us a great idea of the future of this company’s operations.

Today, we feature one patent application that has a number of intriguing implications for visual care, especially related to corrective contact lenses. An application filed recently by Johnson & Johnson discusses a method of creating electronic contact lenses that are capable of hosting a semiconductor for boosting optical power and other functions. Other patent applications discuss improved manufacturing methods for more comfortable for contact lenses and a pair of eyeglasses that can deliver light therapy to treat emotional disorders.

We’ve also taken a look at a number of notable patents that we feel have very interesting implications for Johnson & Johnson’s intellectual property holdings. We look at two patents that provide protections to J&J for improved contact lens designs, including a patent that protects a rigid center capable of housing a semiconductor. We also feature a couple of patents that protect a handheld skin exfoliator device as well as an easier method for opening liquid containers that have been heat sealed for sterilization.

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Methods and Apparatus to Form Electronic Circuitry on Ophthalmic Devices
U.S. Patent Application No. 20130208236

Ophthalmic devices such as contact lenses or punctal plugs have been used for many years to correct vision and intraocular disorders of all kinds. In recent years, developers of these medical implements have sought ways to digitize the functioning of these devices to improve their ability to provide visual care to a patient. For example, an electronic circuit could be optimized to increase the optical power of a contact lens or release an active medication agent to the eye.

Some testing with ophthalmic devices containing a semiconductor for electronic circuitry has already been conducted on animal eyes. These tests have shown that the region of a patient’s eye is a difficult region to use electronic lenses because of the curve of the eyeball and the constraints of space. Electronic current leakage can also occur from these devices during the time between the date of the lenses’ manufacturing and their actual date of use.

This patent application, filed with the UPSTO by Johnson & Johnson, discusses an electronic media insert for a contact lens that would better protect against current leakage. The media insert for this lens device allows the lens to enter a storage mode when electronic activity is not needed for visual functioning. A switching mechanism included on the semiconductor assembly is responsible for selecting between operating and storage mode.

The design of this electronic circuitry also accounts for difficulties in applying this kind of treatment to the spherical shape of the eye. The media insert would be contained within a rigid central portion of the contact lens. The rest of the lens would include a soft skirt to allow the contact to rest comfortably against the patient’s eye.

Claim 1 of this patent application would give Johnson & Johnson full rights over:

“An energized Ophthalmic Device with a Media Insert having an electrical Storage Mode, the energized Ophthalmic Device comprising: an electrical power source incorporated in a Media Insert, wherein the encapsulated Media Insert is included in an energized Ophthalmic Device; an electrical load incorporated in the energized Ophthalmic Device; an electrical connection medium for placing the electrical load in electrical communication with the electrical power source, wherein the electrical power source and the electrical load comprise a portion of a circuit; and a Switching Mechanism included in the circuit, wherein the Switching Mechanism has a plurality of modes including a Storage Mode that places the Ophthalmic Device in a predefined low energy consuming state, wherein the Switching Mechanism adds resistance to restrict current flow through the electrical load, and an Operating Mode, wherein the Switching Mechanism allows current flow through the electrical load, and wherein the Switching Mechanism is sensitive to a stimulus originating external to the energized Ophthalmic Device.”

 

Other Patent Applications

From U.S. Patent Application No. 20130226110, titled “Punctal Plug with Energized Containment Array.”

Vision care and treatments have been at the forefront of Johnson & Johnson’s development goals recently, to judge by the patent applications released by the USPTO over the past month or two. Most of the applications that we’ve pulled up this week deal heavily with the use of corrective ophthalmic devices, especially contact lenses. For example, U.S. Patent Application No. 20130225715, entitled Biomedical Devices Containing Internal Wetting Agents, would protect a method of using hydrophilic wetting agents to increase comfort while wearing contact lenses by switching to more cost-effective materials. U.S. Patent Application No. 20130208236, which is titled Comfortable Ophthalmic Device and Methods of its Production, discusses a newly developed contact lens that can be worn comfortably for an entire day by those with sensitive eyes who do not want to use rewetting agents while wearing the contacts.

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Other patent applications filed by and assigned to Johnson & Johnson discuss visual treatments of various kinds for people suffering from physical or emotional disorders. U.S. Patent Application No. 20130226110, filed under the title of Punctal Plug with Energized Containment Array, describes a new way of delivering active medical agents to the eye. This system would incorporate a punctal plug installed in a patient’s eye. The plug would contain a semiconductor device that would discharge an active medical agent at regular periods. Finally, U.S. Patent Application No. 20130253619, which is titled Spectacles for Light Therapy, has been filed to protect a system of treating seasonal affective disorder (SAD) through the use of light therapy delivered directly by medical glasses worn by the patient.

From U.S. Patent Application No. 20130253619, which is titled “Spectacles for Light Therapy.”

 

Issued Patents of Note

From U.S. Patent No. 8,535,043, entitled “Molds for Use in Contact Lens Production.”

Although patent applications tend to show us the future of what a company intends to develop, we here at IPWatchdog are also very interested in the patents officially issued by the USPTO to companies. The following patents give Johnson & Johnson the ability to protect the design and manufacturing methods for a number of innovations related to pharmaceuticals and cosmetics, two of the core areas for this corporation.

We’re noticing even more patents that point towards Johnson & Johnson’s desire to improve on it’s contact lens offerings, especially those available through its Acuvue brand. For example, U.S. Patent No. 8535043, entitled Molds for Use in Contact Lens Production, protects an improved contact lens mold that allows excess monomers to drain away, preventing monomers from building too thickly on a lens and affecting a user’s vision. U.S Patent No. 8534831, which is titled Energized Biomedical Device, protects the energized portion of a contact lens that would make it possible to include a semiconductor like the one outlined in the ‘236 patent application we featured in our first section.

Other patents we’re looking at today offer protections for some intriguing developments in cosmetics of various kinds. One patent issued in early August to Johnson & Johnson, U.S. Patent No. 8500754, entitled Handheld, Personal Skin Care Systems with Detachable Skin Care Elements, protects a development we featured in a Johnson & Johnson article in May; at that time, the company had only filed the application for the handheld exfoliator device. U.S. Patent No. 8524258, which is titled Structured Lotions, protects a new formula for topical personal care lotions that involves a quaternary ammonium salt with a branched fatty alcohol to create a self-assembling solution that more easily creates a topical lotion when mixed. Finally, we also pulled up U.S. Patent No. 8522995, filed under the title of Piercing Fliptop Closure, which allows a user to more easily open a container of sterilized liquid that has been sealed with the Blow-Fill-Seal heating method.

The Author

Steve Brachmann

Steve Brachmann is a freelance journalist located in Buffalo, New York. He has worked professionally as a freelancer for more than a decade. He writes about technology and innovation. His work has been published by The Buffalo News, The Hamburg Sun, USAToday.com, Chron.com, Motley Fool and OpenLettersMonthly.com. Steve also provides website copy and documents for various business clients and is available for research projects and freelance work.

Warning & Disclaimer: The pages, articles and comments on IPWatchdog.com do not constitute legal advice, nor do they create any attorney-client relationship. The articles published express the personal opinion and views of the author as of the time of publication and should not be attributed to the author’s employer, clients or the sponsors of IPWatchdog.com. Read more.

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