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In reference to the patent: US20140272267

I am writing this in response to a recently filed patent application US 20120272267 A1; titled “Trauma Reduction without Ballistic Performance Reduction.” This patent, filed by Honeywell International Inc., specifically Bradley Grunden, James Thagard, and Ashok Bhatnagar, claims the reduction of blunt trauma in personal armor materials through use of composite fiber laminates with varying orientations throughout.

This patent application incorporates my architectural layup implicitly within its framework. This technology, which I developed and refined, was shared publicly, and outwardly in both literature and conference proceedings as a means of transition to the manufacturing industry. This included sharing the specifics with Honeywell, specifically those named in the patent application above. Therefore, we purposefully did not seek to generate IP. If this patent application from Honeywell is left to come to finalization, however, it will cause lasting impact and implications for others in the armor industry that wish to use the technologies I have generated and shared openly.

Below is an excerpt from their patent application; Claim 20

The panel of claim 19 wherein the fibers of the first composite and the fibers of the second composite are substantially coated with a polymeric binder; wherein the first composite and the second composite are attached to each other such that an outer ply of the first composite is attached to an outer ply of the second composite, and wherein the longitudinal fiber direction of the fibers in the outer ply of the first composite is oriented at an angle of 22.5°/112.5°, or 45.0°/135.0° or 67.5°/157.5° relative to the longitudinal fiber direction of the fibers in the outer ply of the second composite; and wherein the first composite comprises from about 60% to about 75% of the total combined areal density of the first composite and the second composite, and the second composite comprises from about 25% to about 40% of the total combined areal density of the first composite and the second composite.

In the final paragraphs:

The data also illustrates that: 1) shifting the orientation of the layers in the back half (25% by weight) of the panel at 22.5° increments for every two layers of product appears more effective in reducing measured 9 mm BFS than shifting the orientation of the back 25% by weight of the panel by 45°…

This is a direct reference to my “X Hybrid” laminate configuration. I compiled the prior art which was publicly disseminated describing my invention prior to their application date of 2013.

  1. Manuscript for the 27th Army Science Conference, titled “Innovative Materials and Design for the Improvement of Warfighter Head Protection,” published December, 2010. Citation: Vargas-Gonzalez, L., & Walsh, S. M. (2010, December). Innovative Materials and Design for the Improvement of Warfighter Head Protection. In 27th Army Science Conference Proceedings, Orlando, FL.

This article is the first instance of public disclosure (this paper is Unclassified Public Release) of the architecture described above. Excerpt from Section 2.1:

For the architecture evaluation, HB25 plies were laid down in a quasi-isotropic fashion, with every two plies rotated clockwise by 22.5°. The panels oriented in this manner were not necessarily symmetric; however, there were no issues with out of plane warpage. Several panels were made with a mixture of both [0/90] and quasi-isotropic layers, where for instance 75% of the panel would be [0/90], and 25% would be quasi-isotropic.

As you can see, this already highlights the exact configuration that Honeywell describes in their application above. The use of 22.5° turns in the rear 25% of the composite had been established, and various other configurations were presented, including oriented layers on the strike face instead of the rear, and at varying weight percentages of the total panel weight.

  1. Manuscript for SAMPE Tech 2011, titled “Examining the Relationship Between Ballistic and Structural Properties of Lightweight Thermoplastic Unidirectional Composite Laminates,” published in August of 2011 in both the SAMPE 2011 Proceedings and as a Reprint in ARL Technical Publications. Citation: Vargas-Gonzalez, L. R., Walsh, S. M., & Gurganus, J. C. (2011). Examining the Relationship Between Ballistic and Structural Properties of Lightweight Thermoplastic Unidirectional Composite Laminates (No. ARL-RP-0329). ARMY RESEARCH LAB ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND MD WEAPONS AND MATERIALS RESEARCH DIRECTORATE.

Link: http://oai.dtic.mil/oai/oai?verb=getRecord&metadataPrefix=html&identifier=ADA549235

This article was a fully Unclassified Public Release published and presented for a non-DoD industry-led audience. Therefore this is freely available for everyone to see. The conclusions state:

The results culminated in the discovery and development of the ARL X Hybrid architecture, which consists of 1) the balance of architecture in the panel being 75% [0°/90°] and 25% oriented, and 2) the use of the [0°/90°] side as the strike face. By implementing the X Hybrid architecture, UHMWPE materials retained 96-99% of the [0°/90°] architecture's ballistic performance, while also reducing the BFD by 36-41%.

There are four other instances of published works with the ARL X Hybrid architecture prior to the March 15, 2013 filing date for the Honeywell application. They are listed below.

  1. ARL Technical Report titled “Impact and Ballistic Response of Hybridized Thermoplastic Laminates,” published February 2011. Citation: Vargas-Gonzalez, L., Walsh, S. M., & Wolbert, J. (2011). Impact and Ballistic Response of Hybridized Thermoplastic Laminates (No. ARL-MR-0769). ARMY RESEARCH LAB ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND MD WEAPONS AND MATERIALS RESEARCH DIRECTORATE. Link: http://oai.dtic.mil/oai/oai?verb=getRecord&metadataPrefix=html&identifier=ADA538498

  2. Manuscript for the 27th International Symposium on Ballistics, titled “Balancing Ballistic and Back-Face Deformation in Helmets: The Role of Alternative Resins, Fibers, and Fiber Architecture in Mass-Efficient Head Protection” published September 2011. Link: http://proceedings.ndia.org/1210/12086.pdf

  3. Manuscript for the NDIA Classified Warheads and Ballistics Symposium, titled “Influence of Composite Architecture on the Ballistic and Impact Performance of Ceramic/Composite Targets” published August 2012 NOTE: While this paper is limited in distribution, Honeywell is a DoD contractor and as such is freely able to obtain this article and the one below.

  4. ARL Technical Report titled “Multi-Hit Performance of Personal Armor With Complex Composite Backing Architectures” published February 2013. ARL-TR-6833 NOTE: While this paper is limited in distribution, Honeywell is a DoD contractor and as such is freely able to obtain this article and the one below.

In addition, my work for the use of architecture for ballistic applications has been cited in a recent National Academies of Science report (“Review of Department of Defense Test Protocols for Combat Helmets”) on page 13 of the report in the last paragraph.

Another factor in helmet protection is the way the constituent materials are assembled. Previous research results suggest that, in unidirectional UHMWPE panels, varying fiber orientation and fiber architecture can provide better balance between resistance-to-penetration and deformation mitigation. Vargas-Gonzalez et al. (2011) have explored this issue for panels that had more architectural complexity.

Link: http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=18621

In this case the reference listed in the quote above is for the ARL Technical Report re-print of the SAMPE Tech 2011 proceedings.

It has also been cited in a recent article by M.R. O’ Masta.

The performance is dependent upon the composite architecture as well as fiber and (to lesser extent) matrix properties (Vargas-Gonzalez et al., 2011a, Vargas-Gonzalez et al., 2011b, Lee et al., 1994, Lee et al., 2001 and Karthikeyan et al., 2013b).

This work has been ongoing, and since their filing date, there have been other publications on the architectural orientation effects, including the notion of blunt trauma mitigation:

ARL Public Release Poster including [references to blunt trauma and architecture] (http://www.arl.army.mil/opencampus/sites/default/files/WM18_OCOH_Vargas_Poster.pdf)

  1. Vargas-Gonzalez, L., Gurganus, J., Influence of Composite Architecture on Stress Transmittance in Ultra-High Molecular Weight Polyethylene Composite Armor Proceedings of the 28th International Symposium on Ballistics, September 22–26, 2014, Atlanta, GA. Link: http://www.destechpub.com/links/catalogs/bookstore/ballistics-3/ballistics-2014/
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Yes, absolutely anything you published prior to the filing date of the patent qualifies as prior art.

If you believe that Honeywell deliberately named the wrong set of inventors (in other words, that you should have been named as an inventor on these patent applications), there is a process to challenge that.

If you want to make sure that the Examiner sees your publications when he or she is examining this patent application, there is a process for that also.

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Unfortunately, it is too late to challenge the patent application outside of court - it has already granted as US 8,986,810. Instead of focusing on the claims of the application, you should really be looking at the claims in the grant, specifically the independent claims (Claim 1, 17 and 19), which may differ somewhat from those in the application.

If you have published prior art for one or more of the independent claims, then a company could challenge the patent in court and potentially render one or more of the independent claims invalid. Of course, this costs money. There is little point in challenging the patent after it has granted; it is out of the hands of the examiners and it will be up to potential infringers to discover the prior art in order to defend themselves in that space.

One more odd detail about the filing date. On March 16, 2013, the US Patent System switched from a First to Invent system to a First to File system. The filing date of this patent (March 15, 2013) makes is look like Honeywell may have been anticipating this ruling. This is the kind of coincidence that could raise some questions in court.

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