Tuesday Patent – Specificity In Getting Rid Of Red Wine Stains

The USPTO publishes the Official Gazette on Tuesdays, which is thus when all new patents issue.  Every Tuesday, I’ll highlight one or a few interesting patents with a focus on CPC A61K, the class where most pharmaceutical and cosmetic patents are found.

This week, I am looking at US Patent No. 9,585,816, which is a product to get rid of red wine stains on teeth.  I chose this just to continue with the theme of interesting patents related to items purchased with a drivers license.

Of course, if I wanted to enter this field, it seems like it would be easy to design a competing product without infringing the following claim.

1. An effervescent tablet composition for eliminating red wine discoloration of mouth, offensive odor of the mouth and for cleaning a palate comprises an excipient, a disintegrating agent, a flavoring agent, a sweetener, an active agent, and a lubricant;

wherein the excipient comprises a malic acid, a combination comprising a rice starch and a di-basic calcium phosphate, a sorbitol, a sodium bicarbonate, a potassium bicarbonate, a microcrystalline cellulose, a sodium chloride, a sodium carbonate and a magnesium oxide;
wherein the malic acid is present in the composition in a range of 25-35% w/w,
the combination comprising the rice starch and the di-basic calcium phosphate is present in the composition in a range of 15-25% w/w,
the sorbitol is present in the composition in a range of 10-15% w/w,
the sodium bicarbonate is present in the composition in a range of 3-8% w/w,
the potassium bicarbonate is present in the composition in a range of 3-8% w/w,
the microcrystalline cellulose is present in the composition in a range of 2-7% w/w,
the sodium chloride is present in the composition at less than or equal to 5% w/w,
the sodium carbonate is present in the composition at less than or equal to 3% w/w,
the magnesium oxide is present in the composition at less than or equal to 1% w/w,
the flavoring agent is a natural flavoring agent and is present in the composition is 3-8% w/w,
the lubricant is a magnesium stearate and is present in the composition at less than or equal to 3% w/w,
the sweetener comprises a stevia leaf extract and a sucralose, and the stevia leaf extract is present in the composition in a range of 2-7% w/w and the sucralose is present in the composition is in a range of 0.1-3% w/w; and
wherein the malic acid reacts with potassium bicarbonate or sodium bicarbonate or sodium carbonate to form an effervescence reaction to induce tablet disintegration, to provide a pleasant sensation in the mouth when dissolved, and to clean a wine stain in the mouth.

All patentees need to balance the amount of detail included in a claim against the prior art, but this seems excessive. Just to pick on one point, if you only sweeten with sucralose, but not stevia, then you are outside the literal scope of this claim.

It is important to remember that there are times that claims such as this make strategic sense.   Narrow claims are easier to get issued, and some protection is better than no protection. However, it is equally important to remember the multitudinous issues that go into that strategic choice, and whether a patent covering a specific effervescent tablet really aids those strategic goals. I’d be curious to know what the value of this claim is to the patentee.

All of that said, I could have really used this product last weekend. Incentives!

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