Headquartered in New Brunswick, NJ, Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ) is a significant industry leader in the field of pharmaceutical and consumer packaged goods development. In 2013, J&J’s pharmaceutical products in immunology saw total sales of $9.2 billion in that year, owing much to the strong showings of Remicade and Stelera. Other corporate moves have brought J&J more squarely into the field of pharmaceutical development in recent months, including the company’s November purchase of Alios BioPharma of San Francisco, CA, for $1.75 billion, procuring the development of nucleoside analogs for the treatment of hepatitis-C. In mid-December, a J&J subsidiary signed an agreement with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) for the donation of $30 million worth of medications for treating antibiotic-resistant bacteria. J&J was also able to escape a major patent infringement judgement in early December when a Federal Circuit court threw out a $176 million lawsuit filed by Covidien against a J&J subsidiary regarding a line of ultrasonic surgical devices sold by that company.
As we’ve seen a lot recently, Johnson & Johnson patent applications have been focused on the development of electronic components for contact lenses. Patent applications published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office covered today include lenses with energized elements for cosmetic enhancements or the prevention of counterfeit products. Other patent applications we noticed would protect surgical mesh for hernia repair as well as one very interesting system for collecting non-monetary donations for philanthropic purposes.
Although not the subject of this article, we also noticed that eye care was almost the only area of focus among the patents we discovered in our perusal of J&J’s recent patent grants. For contact lenses, we found patents protecting a lens with liquid crystal elements for focal variation processes (U.S. Patent No. 8906088) and another lens with thermochromic materials which can shield a wearer’s eyes from excessive sunlight (U.S. Patent No. 8877103). Other eye care inventions we found included a punctal plug for pulsating a regular dosage of active agents (U.S. Patent No. 8808257) and a fatty acid composition for treating dry eye (U.S. Patent No. 8865685). For more on these J&J recently issued patents please see J&J Eye Care Patents.
Johnson & Johnson Patent Applications: Lots of Electronic Contact Lenses, Plus Philanthropic Donations and Hernia Repair
The various consumer brands which fall under the umbrella of Johnson & Johnson drive a wide scope of innovation in healthcare and personal care fields. J&J operates four regional innovation hubs around the world, including one each in Boston, California, Shanghai and London. The company’s investment into R&D activities results in some unique joint research projects in an array of health and personal care sectors. For example, J&J’s California innovation facility will host a partnership with Sevion Therapeutics of San Diego, CA, and J&J subsidiary CNA Development to develop antibodies to address several therapeutic areas. In early December, the corporation also announced that the California facility would host a partnership between Janssen Biotech of Horsham, PA, and Atreca of San Carlos, CA, for the development of technologies to identify the molecular mechanisms underlying autoimmune diseases and other techniques for more effective treatments.
In our previous Companies We Follow profiles on Johnson & Johnson, we’ve featured a lot of incredibly interesting developments pursued by the company in the field of electronic contact lenses, one of which made our list of the Top 10 Patent Applications of 2013. This latest survey showed us some encouraging signs that J&J’s innovations in this field are continuing to progress through the patent applications filed by subsidiary Johnson & Johnson Vision Care of Jacksonville, FL. Contact lenses that have energized elements which can provide a desirable coloration are described by U.S. Patent Application No. 20140354946, titled Method for Manufacturing and Programming an Energizable Ophthalmic Lens With a Programmable Media Insert. The patent application would protect a method of programming a first ophthalmic lens with a media insert capable of providing functionality to the lens by assembling the insert into the lens. The media insert would be capable of providing cosmetic enhancements to a wearer by altering the color of the wearer’s iris, as seen by others.
Coloration techniques for contact lenses that can provide therapeutic benefits to a wearer are discussed within U.S. Patent Application No. 20140346695, entitled Method of Manufacturing an Ophthalmic Lens With a Passive Event-Based Coloration System (pictured left). The method of manufacturing an ophthalmic lens with an event coloration mechanism claimed by the patent application involves the formation of a lens made of a soft biocompatible material and the encapsulation of an event coloration mechanism within the lens; the mechanism triggers a visual indication in response to a predetermined event. This would allow the lens to react to overexposure of ultraviolet rays, changes in pH levels or the presence of certain pathogens to provide light therapy benefits.
Electronic contact lenses have been developed by J&J to accomplish a variety of tasks other than the coloration techniques explored above. The use of nanomaterials to develop data communication systems for contacts are at the center of U.S. Patent Application No. 20140340631, filed under the title Ophthalmic Lens With Communication System. The patent application would protect an ophthalmic lens with a hydrogel portion and a communication system configured to transmit data associated with a pedigree profile of the contact lens to an external processor. This innovation is designed to reduce concerns of counterfeiting by generating a unique identifier for the lens. Designs for contact lenses that provide corrective vision techniques for a wearer would be protected by U.S. Patent Application No. 20140320800, which is titled Design of Myopia Control Ophthalmic Lenses. The ophthalmic lens claimed here has a design which corrects myopia or myopic astigmatism and includes correction factors based on corneal topography or wavefront data acquired before or after orthokeratology, or corneal refractive therapy. The contact lens of this invention is capable of slowing or stopping the progression of myopia when worn by a patient. It should be noted that, unlike the previous contact lenses, this one doesn’t appear to utilize any electronic elements.
Johnson & Johnson has also been developing innovations in recent months which are intended to provide a wide array of therapeutic and healthcare benefits beyond vision correction and enhancement. A product designed to be used in surgical procedures meant to repair tissue or muscle wall defects in patients is found in U.S. Patent Application No. 20140343580, which is titled Surgical Implant Comprising a Layer Having Openings (pictured right). Filed by Johnson & Johnson Medical GmbH of Somerville, NJ, the patent application claims a surgical implant for tissue or muscle wall defect repair having a first layer with a central and a peripheral area which contains two openings, each of which are raised to a certain height in relation to the first layer and which are sized and shaped to allow surgical fastening of the implant to bodily tissue. This invention achieves the medical benefits of mesh implants used for ventral hernia repair while using less material and encouraging greater tissue growth and adhesion resistance on various sides of the implant without buckling.
We were also interested enough to explore a personal skin care composition that could be protected through the filing of U.S. Patent Application No. 20140335043, which is titled Compositions Comprising Extracts of Bursera Simaruba. The first claim of this patent application simply covers a composition containing an extract of Bursera simaruba and a cosmetically acceptable topical carrier. Filed by Johnson & Johnson Consumer Companies of Skillman, NJ, this invention is intended to capitalize on the discovery that the extract of Bursera simaruba seeds, which come from plants growing in the tropical regions of the Americas, provides skin barrier protection and skin moisturizing to reduce the signs of aging.
We were also very intrigued to find a J&J innovation designed to enable and encourage charitable contributions, which our readers can find in U.S. Patent Application No. 20140317012, which is titled Enabling Non-Monetary Philanthropic Currency Donation. The method of enabling philanthropic donation claimed here involves receiving data designating a donation target from a user, receiving item data corresponding to a non-monetary item from a user and then using a processor to determine a currency amount using the item data and produce a donation record which indicates a determined currency amount that should be donated according to a designated donation target specified by a different donating party. This innovation is intended to provide methods for people to more easily donate to charities of their choice, both in terms of money as well as mindshare, which the patent application states has been recognized as a valuable commodity for charitable causes.