Law, Manufacturing, and Technology

RFID maker earns patent for packaging product

August 22, 2014
TAGS eAgile / patent / RFID
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RFID maker earns patent for packaging product
EAgile in Grand Rapids is a maker of RFID-based products, such as cap seals for medicine bottles. Courtesy eAgile

A radio frequency identification company has been awarded a patent by the U.S. Patent Office for its packaging product that's designed to improve security and brand authenticity across the entire supply chain.

RFID packaging

EAgile, a maker of hardware and software in Grand Rapids, said last week that the patent is for its eSeal, which incorporates chip-based RFID technology on packaging caps and shrink seals.

Each eSeal-tagged product has a secure and unique ID for regulatory compliance and can be tracked with a location and time-and-date stamp.

The product is designed to replace current consumer packaging with minimal disruption.

Peter Phaneuf, president of eAgile, said the eSeal product has RFID added to the aluminum heat-induction seal often found on medicine bottles or the shrink-wrap plastic band around the top of a product.

“We add a chip to that band. You can add a chip to the band on the top of the bottle or on the seal,” Phaneuf said. “The other one is when you by a cosmetic, say a lipstick, you can have that same shrink sleeve all the way around the lipstick. You can add the RFID or the chip to the seal that goes around the product, as well on the cosmetic side to validate that it is an authentic product.”

Trillions of containers

Gary Burns, chief executive officer and general manager at eAgile, said with a close to a trillion containers consumed annually across various industries, the product and patent are significant for consumer safety and business security.

“We are getting a lot of products — food and drug products coming into the U.S. from around the world,” Burns said. “We want to make sure that they are safe. Businesses want to protect their brand and the integrity of their brand and the safety of their brand.”

Phaneuf said beyond the food and drug industries, cosmetic manufacturers are impacted as well by counterfeiting and product tampering.

“There have been some recent bindings in certain makeups that are coming into the United States from foreign countries . . . someone else re-branded it under their own name, and it just wasn’t authentic,” Phaneuf said.

“When I am creating a supply chain and I am distributing my product, I want to know where it is during that distribution model as I am shipping my products around the world. I want greater visibility.”

Years-long process

The company filed for a patent in the U.S., as well as with the PCT, Patent Cooperation Treaty, International Patent System to protect the RFID-enabled product in countries throughout Europe, Asia and South America.

The process from initially filing an application with the U.S. Patent Office to receiving approval lasted between three and five years, according to Burns.

EAgile is still waiting to be granted patent protection in a few remaining countries.

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