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Tow Trailer Assembly

Patent aids back pain

Patently Speaking highlights the technological achievements of Fort Wayne area residents.

Device and Method to Alleviate Lower Back Pain

•U.S. Patent No. 7,288,077

•Invented by Russell L. Notestine, Defiance, Ohio

Back pain is an unfortunate reality for many of us. Spinal growth, an accident, a curved or misaligned spine, or slipped disk precipitates back pain.

This patent acknowledges the many devices that exist to alleviate back pain, particularly lower back pain. By reducing the curvature of the spine or stretching the spine, back pain can be reduced.

These devices either realign the vertebrae or provide a stretching or traction force, but not both.

In contrast, the device from this patent does both. The new device is a Plexiglas support that is specially shaped to follow the proper curve of the spine. The device has the ability to realign the vertebrae in the lumbar region and provide a traction force.

It accomplishes this without having to apply straps or adding pressure to the chest or internal organs, as previous devices do.

In combination with the new device is a new method for alleviating the back pain. A liquid is applied onto the surface of the device so when someone lies on it, an air pocket forms. This holds the lower part of the spine against the surface by vacuum pressure.

This results in a downward force against the spine – stretching and pulling it – allowing the vertebrae to align, thereby alleviating the pressure in the back. This method also includes extending the legs downward to create downward force on the spine without applying the force to the internal organs.

Storage Cabinet with Latching Mechanism

•U.S. Patent No. 7,318,632

•Invented by: Atul Saigal, Fort Wayne; Barry Bidinger, Palatine, Ill.; Jerry Draffkorn Jr., Woodstock, Ill.; Steve Rogman, Crystal Lake, Ill.; and Robert Bergum, Woodstock, Ill.

•Assigned to Knaack LLC, Crystal Lake, Ill.

Heavy duty tool-storage cabinets are pretty conventional and are mainstays of any machine shop. Conventional tool storage cabinets come in one of two varieties; either one that has a latch allowing the doors to be opened and closed by hand, or a pedal that opens the doors when activated by foot.

The later is particularly useful when the arms are full and access is needed into the cabinet. Simply press the pedal with your foot, and the doors open.

The problem with these designs is sometimes there is a need to have the flexibility of opening the same cabinet by either the hand or foot. Current cabinet designs do not provide this option.

This patent describes a new storage cabinet that incorporates a new latching system that opens the door using either a hand latch or foot pedal. The system includes separate actuators specially configured to operate independently to latch and unlatch the doors by either method.

Tow Trailer Assembly

•U.S. Patent No. 7,326,022

•Invented by: James C. Brown, Fort Wayne, and Esler C. Walker Jr., Columbus, Ga.

Many bulk items are stored on pallets – those wood platforms that hold bulk goods for transporting. The pallets make good storage carriers because they are specifically made to be carried around on a forklift and loaded onto trucks or cargo containers.

Most often these trucks are sized to carry several pallets of goods. The problem comes when only one pallet of goods is to be transported.

According to this patent, there are rudimentary trailers for accomplishing this but they are not particularly flexible in terms of the types of pallets they can carry, or vehicles to which they can connect. These trailers are also not particularly compact, so they cannot be packed up and transported with the pallets to be used at a later time.

This patent describes a modular tow trailer that has a forklift assembly attached to a wheel assembly and a hitch. The forklift assembly is specially designed, however, so it can be partly disassembled and folded up to fit into standard-size trucks and cargo containers alongside the pallets. After these new trailers arrive with the pallets, they can be reassembled and used to haul the single pallet as needed.

The preceding are lay descriptions of patents obtained from the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s public records and are provided for general information purposes only. Nothing contained herein is a legal description of any claimed invention, identification of novelty, or offer of legal advice.

Because issued patents are based on applications often filed years earlier, the subject matter of some patents may have been available on the market for some time prior to the issuance of the patent. Additional information on these patents is available at .

Greg Cooper is an attorney with Barnes & Thornburg in Fort Wayne practicing in the areas of patent, trademark, copyright, procurement, and litigation in both the U.S. and internationally. He can be reached at or 425-4660.