J&J Eye Care Patents Abound


The patenting activities of Johnson & Johnson are definitely robust. During 2013 (the latest year for which we have patent statistics available), J&J was 29th globally in terms of patent grants received from the USPTO with 1,107 U.S. patents, an increase of more than 10 percent over the company’s 2012 totals.

Once again, contact lenses and other types of ophthalmic lenses took center stage in terms of patents issued to Johnson & Johnson in recent months. A contact lens with the ability to make more than one focal power available to a wearer is disclosed and protected by U.S. Patent No. 8906088, which is titled Variable Focus Ophthalmic Device Including Liquid Crystal Elements (pictured left). The patent protects an energized ophthalmic lens device with a variable optic insert which is in a portion of an optical zone and comprises a layer of liquid crystal material; the lens also includes a dielectric material layer which is disposed proximate to the optic insert. The dielectric and liquid crystal layers of this invention provide a contact lens which has the ability to adopt variable focal characteristics.

Another contact lens developed to protect a wearer’s eyes from light damage is U.S. Patent No. 8877103, entitled Process for Manufacture of a Thermochromic Contact Lens Material. This innovation is intended to introduce some of the characteristics of photochromic spectacles into contact lenses in such a way that overcomes shortcomings in oxygen permeability and comfort of the contact lens, as well as some manufacturing issues. The patent claims a manufacturing process for a contact lens with at least one thermochromic compound by selecting a photoinitiator which absorbs a first wavelength, selecting a thermochromic compound which displays wavelength absorption at a first temperature of about 25°C as well as a reduction in absorbance at a second temperature ranging from 55°C to 90°C. A reaction mixture containing a polymerizable monomer, a photoinitiator and a thermochromic compound is disposed in a mold and brought to the second temperature range.

We also found an innovation directed at the creation of cosmetically enhanced contact lenses protected by U.S. Patent No. 8915590, issued under the title Contact Lens With Halo Effect. The patent claims a contact lens with a central portion, a tinted iris portion and a limbal ring comprised of a band of color which doesn’t lay over the iris or limbus when the contact is worn. The band blends with the natural sclera of a wearer’s eye to produce a less intensely colored portion of the lens and gives the appearance of a larger iris.

Compositions which are designed to promote ocular health, especially for patients suffering from dry eye symptoms, are also protected through U.S. Patent No. 8865685, which is titled Esters for Treatment of Ocular Inflammatory Conditions. The ophthalmic composition for the treatment of ocular conditions protected by this patent contains an ester of an anti-inflammatory lipid mediator of about 0.025 percent to 5 percent alpha-linoleic acid inositol ester and an aqueous delivery system. This invention is designed to improve eye health in patients by providing a topical composition including fatty acids while reducing the side effects of fatty acid supplementation when ingested, which can include bad aftertaste and gastrointestinal disturbances. A device for delivering medication directly to the ophthalmic region of a patient’s eyes is protected for J&J through U.S. Patent No. 8808257, entitled Methods and Apparatus for Pulsatile Release of Medicaments From a Punctal Plug. This patent protects the pulsatile delivery of an active agent through a tube inserted into a punctal plug cavity as well as two or more discrete pulsatile delivery units which are arranged to release multiple pulses of an active agent from a tube, each pulse containing a generally equal volume of active agent. This innovation is designed to enable more effective therapies using active agents by providing a more exact dosing method than eye drops, some of which may be lost through overflow.

During our recent review of J&J patented innovations, we were also intrigued by U.S. Patent No. 8871123, titled Method of Making an Absorbent Core Having a Plurality of First Regions and a Second Region Surrounding Each of the First Regions. This invention protects a feminine sanitary absorbent napkin that has enhanced breathability and temperature characteristics. The patent, assigned to Johnson & Johnson Ind. E Com. Ltda. of Brazil, claims a method of making the absorbent core referred to in the title by maintaining a fibrous pulp in a chamber and then drawing the fibrous pulp into a mold mounted to a rotating forming drum and having a porous section and a plurality of non-porous projections. This feminine sanitary product has enhanced internal breathability characteristics which reduce the chance that the product will impart an uncomfortable sensation to a user. This type of comfort-related advancement is perhaps the epitome of inventing to solve a problem, which is what the patent system is intended to encourage. It also demonstrates that patentable innovations can come from anywhere.

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