Reading 1/3/08 (IP & sizing)

One of these days, I have got to get a job where all I do is scavenge research, read and offer analysis all day long. Oh wait, that’s what I already do (on too many days). Now I just have to figure out a way to get paid for it. Offers? Oh well, those are short in coming. The tangent that sent me off today was IP (intellectual property) so that’s the theme of today’s reading. One guaranteed way to lose my way for the day is reading Invent Blog which posts the latest in free IP tools and news. One entry mentions a new blog called Securing Innovation. Some ideas worth exploring there are Getting Started With Technical Disclosures, Writing Technical Disclosures, and Solving Business Problems and Managing Risk with Technical Disclosures. That last entry suggests a novel way to protect your intellectual property; paradoxically through public disclosure. To whit:

Retain your right to use your non-patented innovation… The prohibitive cost of obtaining patents will force you into separating innovation between those which are deemed to be critical to your business and those which are not… Although the innovation you don’t patent is deemed non-critical to the operation of your business, it doesn’t mean that it wouldn’t cause inconvenience and expense if you were prevented from using these inventions due to a competitor’s patent. If a competitor obtains a patent on an innovation you failed to patent, you have three options. You can try to invalidate the patent, which will lead to a costly trial (in terms of both time and money). You can continue to use the innovation (and pay licensing fees). Or, you can devote time and money into developing ways to work around the patent…The far simpler and more cost effective way is to prevent a competitor from obtaining a patent in the first place. At the time of your invention review, release your non-critical innovations to the public via a technical disclosure. This will establish your innovation as public domain, and prevent others from obtaining patents that can block your use.

I never would have thought of this but it makes sense in many circumstances. One example that would have been perfect for this strategy was to prevent a patent being granted as described in this past entry called Patently Arrogant. I don’t want to get too far afield but I think an entry on what could constitute disclosure -across the board- for our industry is a topic for another day. Much of the latter is covered here but I suppose we could itemize it specifically and develop a profile if we had an example to work from (volunteers?).

What I’d meant to write about was a specific patent that I always have trouble finding on my desktop. It’s a patent for a sizing gadget. You know me, I love gadgets. I can never find the thing. Digressing a bit, I finally created an account at Free Patents Online (registration is required, you get diddley otherwise). This site is very useful. You can search for patents by keyword, patent number, inventor, date, whatever. You can also save searches in separate folders and also save searches to share with others, a sort of shared bookmarking service for patents. Another useful thing is you can cross reference search to see which other patents are referring to the patent you’ve looked up. That’s how I found several other sizing patents related to the gadget I mentioned above. To find any of the patents I mention below, you’ll have to register and paste in the patent number.

The gadget I was looking for to share with you is this thing called the Gennaro Sizing Wheel; it’s for men’s clothing sizes. Here’s a picture of it (larger, 224kb):

It’s pretty cool. I don’t have an actual one but the theory is, you select one measure, say the chest, and then the other measures that (theoretically) pertain to that size, pop up in the respective windows. The Apparel Size Calculator (Patent # 6311403) was invented by Gennaro Macrini. He has a website selling size consultation and says “Given a persons height, weight, and body type we can calculate their size in a specific style and brand of clothing”. The 43 page patent contains something like 17 pages of sizing charts including longs, shorts etc. Definitely a must have item if you’re making men’s suits and outerwear.

Cross referencing Macrini’s patent, I found another gem: Patterning system for a selected body type and methods of measuring for a selected body type (Patent # 6,978,549). This itemizes the anthropometric differences between Blacks and Caucasions. Very cool! Here’s a taste:

As any black woman will attest, this has been needed for a very long time. This patent is 42 pages long, included are comparatives of sizing and measures for blacks vs the “industry standard” (yeah, whatever that is) of bodies, finished garments including things like caps. For the life of me, I don’t see the legitimacy or necessity of including physiognomy details (beyond skull shape for caps) so I’m disappointed to see that included. I thought that died out in the 20’s but I guess not. The comparative of how underwear fits black women is interesting and even includes baby diaper fit too! There’s lots of illustrations to include suggested pattern corrections.

Lastly I found Sizing Scheme to Improve Clothing Size Accuracy (Patent #7310883), granted this past Christmas Day to Lee Ann Park, a DE producing a denim line called Little in the Middle. You can see available styles here, although her sizes aren’t indicated as described below. Thankfully, she avoids derision because she hasn’t patented a sizing standard like Rebecca & Drew (also see Yet another fitting “system” and Fitting System™ of the week). Hers seems specific to her product line and it’ll only work on separates. The way hers works is you have a set waist and hip measure for a specific size, using the example of size 10 being 29″ waist and 38″ hip (not that hers are, this is an example). She’s advertising smaller than typical waist sizes so she amends the number 10 with a .1 or .2 to indicate how much larger or smaller the hip or waist is, based on the base size, ending up with a 10.1 or a 10.2.

This means having a size 10 with varying waist sizes, in betweens. This will work for customization but it seems over belabored to me. If you’re going to customize sizes, why not just use numbers for waist/hip/inseam similar to men’s pant sizes and fore go the hassle?

This sizing system most assuredly won’t work for most producers because everyone determines their own stock size, the measures that constitute a given size because we’re not using a standard ruler. Now if we were, as all the academics claim we are, Park’s system would work to indicate how one’s sizes are derived from the standard ruler everyone is based upon. Therefore, theoretically, a woman could go from place to place knowing they’d take a 10.1 if a given manufacturer based their sizing standard that way. However, I don’t see that happening anytime soon. Sizing is too proprietary. Who is going to advertise they use “X” ASTM standard plus or minus a standard sized difference in the waist or hip or whatever?

Anyway, that’s the summation of todays patent readings. I actually did other useful things today as well. Or rather, I still plan to.

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One comment

  1. Satcey Ellis says:

    Hi..I just ran across your blog…..thanks for the positive feedback…we are expanding into the actual production of denim jeans and consumer goods mentioned in the patent…neber thought this day would come…it took forever to get the patent issued…keep up the great research work !!!
    Mr. Stacey Ellis

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