The Patent Map of a Measuring Cup
People use measuring cups to measure the required portion of liquid when making bread. Traditional measuring cups have indicia marked on the side such that they are difficult to read when the user is unable to bend his or her body or hold the cup firmly in the hand. However, the OXO measuring cup overcomes this problem by having at least one ramp formed radially inward on the inside surface of the measuring cup. The indicia on the upward surface of the ramp allow the user to look downward into the measuring cup, thereby eliminating the need to look horizontally at the cup at eye level. The design is shown in patent US6263732. This article carries out a further analysis of this invention by tracing its forward and backward citations to build a simple patent map of technology development of the measuring cup. Three patents, namely US4073192, US4566509, and US5588747, are chosen from 16 backward citations, while another three patents, namely US7306120, US8517219, and US9354098, are chosen from 25 forward citations. The analysis of these three backward citation patents shows that although various functions such as adjustable volume, thermometer, and so on can be added to the measuring cup, no measuring cup has ever discussed the issue of easy visibility as the OXO measuring cup does. In addition, three forward citations show that various methods have been invented to meet the need for easy visibility by using different structures such as a ramp or ladders. It is clear from the analysis that inventive principles 17, another dimension, and 32, optical change, are applied in those inventions. A trend of surface segmentation (Mann, 2002) can be found from US6263732 to US9354098, where the ramp in US6263732 is a flat surface, whereas US9354098 uses a more advanced design in which the ramp is a 3D protrusion, allowing the reverse side of the measuring cup to be used to measure the quantity of fluid too.
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