Term Paper: Trash Bag Patents the Designation "U.S

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Trash Bag Patents

The designation "U.S. Patent" or "Patent Pending" is found on many household products. This designation provides notice to the public and potential inventors that the product has been patented, or is in the process of being reviewed to receive a patent, and has protection afforded by the laws enforced by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). This paper overviews three currently issued patents. These are: Patent # 5,205,650 for the Glad Force Flex trash bag, Patent # 5,006,380 for the Glad Tall Kitchen trash bag, and Patent # 5,246,110 for the Glad Quick-Tie trash bag. A compare and contrast of these three patents will be explored.

This discussion will be followed by a description of a patent improvement I believe would be a benefit to the trash bag. This improvement is an absorbent strip in the bottom of each bag, similar to the material found in baby diapers. This absorbent strip will absorb any liquids that gather in the bottom of the bag to prevent the liquids from leaking from the bag. Not only will details of this improvement be given, but why the improvement is important will be detailed. How my improvement meets the Lanham Act Patentability Requirements will be overviewed. Lastly, a sketch of my design will be presented.

Environmental Scans in Marketing

Introduction

The designation "U.S. Patent" or "Patent Pending" is found on many household products. This designation provides notice to the public and potential inventors that the product has been patented, or is in the process of being reviewed to receive a patent, and has protection afforded by the laws enforced by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). This paper overviews three currently issued patents. These are: Patent # 5,205,650 for the Glad Force Flex trash bag, Patent # 5,006,380 for the Glad Tall Kitchen trash bag, and Patent # 5,246,110 for the Glad Quick-Tie trash bag. A compare and contrast of these three patents will be explored.

This discussion will be followed by a description of a patent improvement I believe would be a benefit to the trash bag. This improvement is an absorbent strip in the bottom of each bag, similar to the material found in baby diapers. This absorbent strip will absorb any liquids that gather in the bottom of the bag to prevent the liquids from leaking from the bag. Not only will details of this improvement be given, but why the improvement is important will be detailed. How my improvement meets the Lanham Act Patentability Requirements will be overviewed. Lastly, a sketch of my design will be presented.

Patent Overview

Glad Force Flex (stretchable strength) -- Patent # 5,205,650:

Patent # 5,205,650 focuses on stretchable strength in trash bags. This patent is used today in the Glad Force Flex brand of trash bags. The patent applicants begin with noting that forming bags from orientable thermoplastic polymeric film material is performed through a variety of methods to ensure the film has adequate strength to perform the job it was designed to do. However, despite these precautions, there is a chance that during use the bag will rupture when sudden forces are presented. The applicant uses the example of a bag filled with powder or granules rupturing when dropped. Although this tendency to rupture is more common in more rigid polymers, even less rigid polymers, such as low density polyethylene, has a tendency to rupture upon sudden impact. For this reason, the applicant surmises that it would be desirable to increase the energy absorption properties of the article made from the film material -- trash bags -- and reduce its tendency to rupture ("United States Patent 5205650," 1993).

Patent #5,205,650 is concerned with methods of spreading the tension and the other forces in the film material, to minimize this risk of rupture. As the patent concerns the design of the film material itself, it is not specific to trash bags, in which Glad uses this invention to manufacture its Force Flex brand. Instead, the patent applicant notes that there are a variety of uses for the film material. The material can be used to manufacture a major portion of an article, such as the example of using it for strapping for parachutes to minimize the risk of rupture under impact or reduce the impact on the load. Or the film material can be used to manufacture smaller portions of an article, such as bags, according to the applicant, that often have zones where the bag is most liable to rupture. The applicant further states that the rupture zone can be determined by theoretical considerations or, more practically, through experiments of dropping full bags ("United States Patent 5205650," 1993).

The seam in a bag is often associated with a rupture zone. The film material adjacent to a seam is more likely to experience a rupture than elsewhere in the bag, according to the patent applicant. He theorizes that the formating of the seam adversely affects the film material's properties, in this area. In gussetted bags, the rupture zone most often is found at the junction between side gussets and the seam. Of course, a bag may have more than one rupture zone ("United States Patent 5205650," 1993).

To address this problem, the applicant has designed orientable thermoplastic polymeric film material that can be formed into a bag that has shock absorbing zone. This material is comprised of at least one stretched zone that extends in a direction leading substantially away from the rupture zone and in which the film material has been stretched

substantially in that direction, and a plurality of substantially unstretched zones adjacent to and extending in substantially the same direction as (...) each zone, whereby the rupture forces are transmitted away from the rupture zone by the unstretched zones and into the stretched zone or zones ("United States Patent

5205650," 1993).

For the Glad Flex Force bags, the bags are made entirely of this material design. The patent applicant would have likely used the material only in the rupture zones that are adjacent to the seams of the trash bags. However, Glad has taken the material and applied it to the bag, as a whole, in order to minimize ruptures anywhere in the bag.

Glad Tall Kitchen (drawstring) -- Patent # 5,006,380:

Patent # 5,006,380 concerns what the applicant describes as draw tape bags. Glad has adopted this invention in their drawstring bags, such as the Glad Tall Kitchen trash bags. The draw tape is formed from a multilayer structure of at least two different thermoplastic materials. There are multiple reasons the inventor has gone with a multilayer design for the draw tape ("United States Patent 5006380," 1991).

The patent applicant surmises that using two or more materials to produce the draw tape is advantageous to a single layer tap formed from a blend of the same materials. Multiple layers allows the use of strong tape that will give the draw tape strength, while not negatively affecting the seal strength of the heat seals to the bag panels. It is also noted that strong thermoplastic materials do not have satisfactory tactile qualities. This is due to the harder surface of stronger thermoplastic materials. This can cut the user's hand when the draw tape is used as a handle. This is obviously a problem since the design of the trash bag has the draw tape being used as a handle when the bag is filled. As the draw tape is made from harder material, it becomes more uncomfortable when there is weight added to the bag and force is applied. In addition, these stronger materials, such as high density polyethylene, do not have the same abilities in forming heat seals than weaker thermoplastic materials ("United States Patent 5006380," 1991).

In the past, these problems that occurs with using stronger thermoplastic materials for the draw tap -- tactile challenges and reduced ability in heat seal strength -- have been overcome by physically blending two thermoplastic materials. In these previous solutions, a single layer of blended thermoplastic materials was utilized. The example of a draw tape made from 50 weight percent low density polyethylene and 50 weight percent high density polyethylene is given. This process does give the tape some properties from each of the materials utilized; however, this process does not give the best properties of either when it comes to strength of the high density polyethylene or the heat sealability of the low density polyethylene ("United States Patent 5006380," 1991).

Patent # 5,006,380 overcomes the limitations of the single layer, multiple material blended, draw tape. Instead of a single layer, the draw tape is formed from at least two layers of two different thermoplastic materials. The first layer, in this multilayer system, is made from a material that has the ability to form a strong heat seal with the thermoplastic film that will be utilized for the bag. This may even be the same material from which the panels of the bag are manufactured. The… [END OF PREVIEW]

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