[Ip-health] Patents related to PX-UV, an R2-D2 look-alike robot that may disinfect public spaces from SARS-CoV-2

Luis Gil Abinader luis.gil.abinader at keionline.org
Wed May 13 12:15:37 PDT 2020


Link: https://www.keionline.org/33023

Patents related to PX-UV, an R2-D2 look-alike robot that may disinfect
public spaces from SARS-CoV-2

Posted on May 13, 2020 by Luis Gil Abinader

Texas-based company Xenex Disinfection Services, a manufacturer of robots
that reportedly removes the SARS-CoV-2 virus from public spaces, has been
making news lately. One of their robots, which uses ultraviolet lights to
kill viruses and bacteria in surfaces and look a lot like R2-D2, have been
featured in media reports in the U.S. and abroad this week.

Studies have suggested that SARS-CoV-2 can survive for hours to days on
surface. Ultraviolet light is an effective disinfectant that has been used
for decades in healthcare and other settings to inactivate pathogens. A
group of researchers in the U.S. recently tested whether one of the pulsed
xenon ultraviolet (PX-UV) devices manufactured by Xenex is effective in
reducing SARS-CoV-2 on hard surfaces and N95 masks. In a preprint article
circulated this week, which acknowledges funding from Xenex Disinfection
Services, they report that the device “can effectively reduce the viable
load of SARS-CoV-2 in a laboratory setting on both chamber slides and N95
respirators.” Considering this, it is worth exploring the patent landscape
of PX-UV robots made by Xenex.

KEI searched for all issued U.S. patents assigned to Xenex Disinfection
Services. We found 24 patents assigned to this company, with a priority
date between 2011 and 2016. Most are directed to apparatus or methods for
ultraviolet disinfection, but the company also have four patents related to
smoke detectors and two about blackout curtains.

The list of U.S. patents assigned to Xenex Disinfection Services is
available here:
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1vPNbsBWRslnUEzMF_fER5cUMUG88386map8EQyB6T_M/edit?usp=sharing

For illustration, the first claim of U.S. patent 10,335,506 is directed to
an apparatus comprised by a germicidal lamp, a mobile carriage, and a
“reflector system arranged in the apparatus such that ultraviolet light
emitted from the germicidal lamp is projected to a region exterior to the
apparatus between approximately 2 feet and approximately 4 feet from a
floor of a room in which the apparatus is arranged.” Xenex states in their
website that this patent covers three of their PX-UV robot models. The
first claim of U.S. patent 10,245,340 is directed to a apparatus with a
duration circuitry “configured to discharge a set amount of stored energy
in a set amount of time such that energy flux of ultraviolet light in the
wavelength range between 200 nm and 320 nm generated at the germicidal
pulsed light source is between approximately 20 J/m.sup.2 and approximately
1000 J/m.sup.2.” Xenex says that this patent covers three of their robots.

Xenex Disinfection Services will not necessarily be able to block
competitors with these patents. As of today, 100 patents have been issued
in the U.S. that cite the terms “ultraviolet light” and “disinfection” in
any of the claims. There are also other incumbents and potential new
entrants in the ultraviolet disinfection market, which appears to be a
billion dollar industry. Notably, Amazon announced that they are developing
a robot based on this technology too. Also, several of the patents assigned
to Xenex Disinfection Services have been filed in the U.S. but not in other
countries.

Nevertheless, it seems important to keep an eye on whether and how Xenex
asserts their patents, particularly if ultraviolet disinfection gains
relevance as a tool against COVID-19.


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