P&G innovation focusing on personal care and home products

By Steve Brachmann
January 9, 2015

The Procter & Gamble Company (NYSE: PG) of Cincinnati, OH, is an American multinational company focused on the development of an array of consumer goods, including personal care products, cleaning agents and pet foods. In recent months, this corporation announced that it would sell off about 80 core brands in order to streamline its activities and focus on its most profitable brands. In late December, the company announced that it would be selling its Camay and Zest soap brands to Anglo-Dutch multinational Unilever for an undisclosed price. In its latest move to consolidate its North American operations, P&G nd

s also announced that it will close a plant in Augusta, GA, which employs 190 people for making fabric care products, within 18 months.

The strength of Procter & Gamble’s patent portfolio has increased in some significant ways since our last check into the patenting activities of this company. Patents issued by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in recent weeks include a couple protecting perfumed goods, including a body wash composition with enhanced skin perfuming qualities. Another patent protects a home network for gathering useful data from consumer goods. We also explore a patent directed at a handheld hair dryer which has multiple grips for a more ergonomic design.

Patent applications filed by P&G indicate the most recent research and development activities in which this company is engaged and hair care was also featured heavily here. We were especially intrigued by one innovation for superimposing potential hairstyles over the captured image of a person’s head as a hairstyle consultation tool. Another patent application involves a method of analyzing behavioral data regarding itching to determine the healthiness of an individual’s scalp. We also explore a patent application which claims a portable air filtration device for removing airborne contaminants from a space.

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Procter & Gamble’s Recently Issued Patents: From Perfumed Consumer Goods to Home Networks for Consumer Goods 

Procter & Gamble is not the only corporation involved in the development of personal care items which we feature here on the Companies We Follow series, as our recent coverage of Johnson & Johnson suggests. In some ways, P&G is the little brother to J&J in terms of patent activities in recent years; in 2013, P&G received 546 U.S. patent grants from the USPTO, an increase of 12.8 percent but only about half as many patents received by J&J that same year. Company websites for P&G, however, boast a very strong patent portfolio of 41,000 international patents as well as another 55,000 globally active patent applications. The company is fairly aggressive in protecting its intellectual property portfolio, taking action against perceived patent infringements by Clio USA and Kraft in recent years.

The scenting of consumer products were at the center of a couple recently issued Procter & Gamble patents which we felt our readers would enjoy learning about today. Enhanced substances which provide a pleasing fragrance to body wash compositions are disclosed and protected by U.S. Patent No. 8895041, which is titled Compositions for Delivering Perfume to the Skin. The cleansing composition claimed by the patent includes is made up of 5 percent by weight of a surfactant and at least 25 percent by weight of water and a cyclodextrin complex comprised of a plurality of perfume raw materials wherein 80 percent of the perfume raw materials have a fractional delivery value of at least 0.69. The cleaning composition of this invention includes perfume materials which deposit more efficiently on the skin and are capable of lasting beyond the user’s initial cleansing. Techniques for developing unique and useful perfume raw materials for a range of consumer products are the focus of U.S. Patent No. 8912350, issued under the title Perfume Systems. The initial claim of this patent very specifically protects a perfume raw material comprising (E)-1-(2,4,4-trimethyl-7-oxabicyclo[4.1.0]heptan-3-yl)but-2-en-1-one; other claims protect consumer products and other materials which utilize this compound. This invention was developed in order to enhance the pool of perfume raw materials which are available to create desirable fragrances in consumer products.

Laundry care compositions have been developed through Procter & Gamble’s recent R&D activities. A granular laundry composition that exhibits excellent flowability and other enhanced characteristics is protected through U.S. Patent No. 8906842, issued under the title Spray-Dried Detergent Powder. The spray-dried powder protected by this patent contains from 20 percent to 80 percent by weight of a spray-dried particle composed of 5 percent by weight of sulphate and 45 percent by weight of an anionic detersive surfactant; the remainder of the powder is comprised of a second spray-dried particle composed of 55 percent by weight of sulphate and up to 10 percent by weight of an anionic detersive surfactant. This granular composition has reduced stickiness between particles and has an improved ability to formulate the sulphate into the powder during manufacture.

hand hair dryerA personal care device for hair treatment which has a more ergonomic design is at the center of U.S. Patent No. 8904663, which is titled Hand Hair Dryer With Two Handle Grips (pictured left). The hand hair dryer protected by this patent includes an electric fan within a housing, a first handle grip with operator control elements, a barrel portion containing an electric heater which is in line with an electric fan for generating an air stream from the barrel portion. The barrel portion is also embodied as a second handle grip and is insulated to prevent it from becoming hot during use. This design allows a hair stylist to maintain a lower arm position, which is more comfortable, while encouraging the power cord to naturally extend away from the user.

We’ve had a blast covering technologies related to the Internet of Things here on IPWatchdog and we were very interested in a P&G patent recently issued in this field. U.S. Patent No. 8886785, which is titled Home Network of Connected Consumer Devices, claims a method of associating a function to a room within a home by forming a mesh network in the structure through a plurality of nodes, determining a time-of-flight and signal strength for signals between nodes, using that data to segment the nodes into rooms, obtaining an identity for a node in a room and using the identity to assign a function to the room. This system could provide multiple beneficial impacts related to the use of consumer goods, such as tracking levels of air freshener in an air freshener device to identify when a replacement should be bought. Another example given by the patent involves tracking the progress of a Swiffer sweeper through a home to identify non-carpeted floors that should be swept and not vacuumed.

barrier packagingAs the patent application section of this article discusses, Procter & Gamble has been pursuing advances in sustainability across its corporate activities for some time now. That’s one reason we were so interested in U.S. Patent No. 8871319, which is titled Flexible Barrier Packaging Derived From Renewable Resources (pictured right). This invention provides for packaging materials which are wholly composed from renewable resources substantially free of virgin petroleum-based compounds while also preventing undesirable characteristics for gas and moisture transfer experienced by other renewable resource packaging materials. The flexible barrier package claimed by this patent is comprised of a sealant which has a thickness from one micrometer to 750 micrometers with a biobased content of at least 85 percent, a first tie layer with an adhesive having a thickness up to 20 micrometers and an outer substrate laminated to the sealant via the first tie layer, the outer substrate having a thickness ranging from 2.5 micrometers to 300 micrometers and a biobased content of at least 95 percent.

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Procter & Gamble’s Patent Applications: From Hairstyle Consultation Tools to Presenting Online Shopping Offers

Innovation at Procter & Gamble takes many forms. The company touts its newly developed product lines on its official website, which in recent months include the addition of products like Braun Series 9 razors, Pampers Premium Care Pants and Max Factor Masterpiece Transform Mascara, all released since the beginning of November. P&G has long had a focus on corporate sustainability and in its 16th annual sustainability report, released in mid-December, the company announced that it had cut corporate carbon emissions by 14 percent and beat it’s 2020 waste reduction goal by throwing away only 0.4 percent of its input materials in the past year. The company also supports innovation from start-ups all over the world by taking part in programs like the regional Innovation Xchange program which occurred this past September in partnership with neighboring companies like Kroger and Western & Southern Financial Group.

Some novel hair care technologies developed by Procter & Gamble were reflected in a couple of patent applications catching our attentions today. A technique for providing conditioning benefits to an individual’s hair and scalp while reducing some shortcomings to certain hair treatments is discussed within U.S. Patent Application No. 20140335040, filed under the title Method of Providing Cleanness to Hair and/or Scalp. Developed by a team working mostly in Singapore, the patent application claims a method of applying an effective amount of a hair care composition to the hair and/or scalp after shampooing; the hair care composition contains up to 10 percent of a cationic surfactant system, up to 20 percent of a high melting point fatty compound, up to 5 percent of a metal pyrithione and up to 10 percent of metal salt other than metal pyrithiones. This composition is capable of utilizing zinc pyrithione to provide conditioning benefits to the hair and scalp while resulting in less oiliness.

hair consultation toolP&G is also trying to protect the rights to a novel system for providing consultations on hairstyles through the filing of U.S. Patent Application No. 20140313302, which is titled Hair Consultation Tool Arrangement and Method (pictured right). The hair consultation tool arrangement claimed includes a digital video camera for taking continuous video of a model’s head and hair, a processing software tool which processes the video and a display device for presenting the processed pictures. The system also utilizes an illumination device configured to produce multiple lighting modules. This invention is designed so that a user can view a dynamic, real-time video of themselves with a potential new hairstyle superimposed on their head as if they were looking at themselves in the mirror with the new hairstyle. We also noticed a method of evaluating aspects of a potentially unhealthy scalp described within U.S. Patent Application No. 20140357962, entitled Objective Non-Invasive Method for Quantifying Degree of Itch Using Psychophysiological Measures. The patent application claims a non-invasive method for quantifying itch by providing a visual stimulus to a subject which focuses the subject on itch, collecting psychophysiological data from the subject while displaying the stimulus and using the data to assess the therapeutic value of a treatment or product. This system helps assess the efficacy of anti-dandruff and related compositions by measuring subject response such as heart rate reduction, respiration decrease or an increase in electrodermal activity.

air filtering deviceP&G’s research and development in recent months includes a wide scope of personal care products, as is evidenced by some other patent applications we noted. U.S. Patent Application No. 20140331623, filed under the title Collapsible Air Filtering Device (pictured right), would protect a portable device for the removal of air pollutants in interior spaces. The patent application claims an air filtering device with a base having both an inlet and outlet for air, a fan functionally attached to the base and both an outer sleeve which is substantially air-impermeable and an air filter which are in air flow communication with the air outlet. The air filter of this portable device includes conductive materials and/or carbon particles to aid in the removal of odors and small molecules. A device to aid those who suffer from conditions of urinary incontinence would be protected for P&G through the filing of U.S. Patent Application No. 20140323912, entitled System and Method for Identifying a Condition of Pelvic Floor Muscles. The patent application claims a wetness detection device that identifies a condition of pelvic floor muscles, the device including a backsheet which is substantially impervious to liquid, an insert having a predetermined absorbency and coupled to the backsheet through a securing mechanism as well as an indicator coupled to the insert which reacts when in contact with liquid to communicate an amount of fluid leaked during the contraction of abdominal muscles. This innovation is intended to provide a self-diagnostic test procedure for assessing the value of pelvic training exercises for preventing urinary incontinence.

Procter & Gamble is also involved in the development of systems meant to improve online retail shopping activities. A system for providing tailored offers which address a consumer’s current unmet needs is the focus of U.S. Patent Application No. 20140344052, filed under the title Method for Presenting an Offer Over a Network. The method for presenting an offer claimed by the patent application includes receiving contents information for an online shopping basket associated with an online shopper, analyzing the information according to the product market categories of the contents, determining a market demographic from the analysis, analyzing online and offline shopping behaviors associated with the demographic, identifying consumer needs of the online shopper based on the analysis and communicating information related to the consumer need to the online shopper. This system is designed to provide online shoppers with offers for products of which they may be unaware but may meet their needs.

We were also intrigued to find a novel manufacturing process for the production of diapers reflected in the filing of U.S. Patent Application No. 20140339046, titled Methods and Apparatuses for Rejecting Defective Absorbent Articles From a Converting Line. The system at the center of this patent application is more capable of identifying defects in the webs and discrete components attached to webs of absorbent articles as they are fabricated. The patent application claims a method for rejecting absorbent articles from a web converting manufacturing process which involves inspecting a substrate and component parts with a sensor, cutting the substrate and component parts into discrete absorbent articles, advancing the articles on a carrier, identifying a defective absorbent article and redirecting the leading end portion of the defective article towards a different carrier on a reject article transport path.

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 and should not be attributed to the author’s employer, clients or the sponsors of IPWatchdog.com. Read more.

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