Automatic Faucets

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Contents

1 Background

An automatic faucet (sometimes called a sensor faucet) is a faucet with a hands-free mechanism for opening and closing its valve. The use of such faucets is mainly confined to public washrooms where they are an important tool for conserving water and mitigating the spread of germs. They are even called by other names such as Electronic Faucet, Sensor Faucet, Hands Free Faucet, Touch-less Faucet, even Infrared Faucet.

They have several advantages Sensor or automatic faucets have the advantage of shutting off automatically after a hand wash therefore cutting down on water waste. This waste is also a concern for people who care for the environment. When installed in home, sensor faucets alleviate the need for parents to ensure that children have turned off taps. Sensor faucets can benefit elderly people or those suffering from arthritis since there are no handles to twist or pull. Economically, sensor faucets use less water resulting in direct savings on your water bill. In a kitchen setting, they automatically shut off after you have used the correct amount of water for rinsing a pan or washing an apple which also eliminates the worry of a sink overflowing.They have become a central theme in the American experience.

References:Automatic Sensor Faucets, Automatic Faucet

2 Search Strategy

2.1 Control Patents

S.No Patent/Publication Number Publication date Assignee Title
1 US7997301B2 16/08/2011 Masco Corp Spout assembly for an electronic faucet
2 US7627909B2 8/12/2009 Kohler Co Faucet sensor mounting assembly
3 US7174577B2 13/02/2007 Technical Concepts LLC Automatic proximity faucet
4 US7150293B2 19/12/2006 Masco Corp Multi mode hands free automatic faucet
5 US6513787B1 4/2/2003 American standard INT INC Touchless fluid supply interface and apparatus
6 US20100071126A1 25/03/2010 Geberit INT AG Faucet controlled in a contactless manner
7 US20090100593A1 23/04/2009 Black Pearl Industries Automatic hand washing system
8 US20080283786A1 20/11/2008 Ultraclenz LLC Infrared retrofit faucet controller
9 EP1019791B1 12/6/2002 Wonder E C LLC Water faucet with touchless control
10 EP0921238A1 9/6/1999 Grohe armaturen friedrich Electrically controlled water tap

2.2 Classifications

The following classifications were considered while searching for patents.

2.2.1 US Classifications

US Class Description
4/623 Baths, closets, sinks, and spittoons - with proximity operated valve
4/678 Baths, closets, sinks, and spittoons -faucet or spout
137/001 Fluid handling - Processes
137/551 Fluid handling - with indicator, register,recorder,alarm or inspection means
137/613 Fluid handling - flow path with serial valves and/or closures
137/801 Fluid handling - Faucets and spouts
251/12904 Valves and valve actuation -remote control system for electrical actuator
340/573.1 Communications Electrical - human condition responsive indication system

2.2.2 IPC/ ECLA Classificatioins

IPC/ ECLA Class Description
A47K000512 Holders or dispensers for soap, toothpaste or the like - for liquid or pasty soap
E03C000105 Plumbing installations for fresh water - arrangement of devices on wah basins, baths, sinks for remote control of taps
E03C000105D2 Plumbing installations for fresh water - arrangement of devices on wah basins, baths, sinks for remote control of taps - using touchless sensors
F15D000102 Influencing flow of fluids in pipes or conduits
F16K001100 Multiple way valves
F16K001514 Ckeck valves - with flexible valve members
F16K0031 Valves , Taps,Cocks - Operating Means

2.3 Micropatent Search

Databases Covered: US, EP, WO, JP, DE, GB, FR
Years:- 1991 to 2011

S.No Search Comments results criteria Search String
1 Classes - Touchless control of Faucets 907 hits Any Classification E03C000105D2 or 004623
2 Keywords - Touchless Faucets 1140 hits Claims, Title or Abstract (faucet*1 or (water near3 (tap or taps)) or spigot*1) NEAR4 (automatic*4 or (on adj demand) or sensor*1 or proximity or touchless or (touch adj less) or touchfree or (touch adj free) or electronic*4 or electric*4 or (hands adj free) or (contact adj (free or less)))
3 Keywords - Control of Faucets 533 hits Claims, Title or Abstract (((human or man or woman or person*1 or humanbeing*1 or men or women) near3 (detect*3 or present or presence or movement or moving or action*1 or gesture*1)) or (voice near3 activat*3) or (control*4 near3 (algorithm*1 or mechanism*1 or system*1)) or (sensor*1 near3 signal*1)) SAME (faucet*1 or (water near3 (tap or taps)) or spigot*1)
4 Classes of Faucets Any Classification 137801 or 137613 or F16K001514 or F16K001100 or A47K000512 or E03D000124 or 004678 or F16K0031* or 137001 or 239067 or 137551 or F15D000102 or 25112903 or 3405731
5 Full patent spec. (faucet*1 or (water near3 (tap or taps)) or spigot*1) NEAR10 (automatic*4 or (on adj demand) or sensor*1 or proximity or touchless or (touch adj less) or touchfree or (touch adj free) or electronic*4 or electric*4 or (hands adj free) or (contact adj (free or less)))
6 1135 hits Combined query 4 AND 5
7 Class - Plumbing Installation Any Classification E03C000105
8 Full patent spec. (faucet*1 or (water near3 (tap or taps)) or spigot*1) SAME(automatic*4 or (on adj demand) or sensor*1 or proximity or touchless or (touch adj less) or touchfree or (touch adj free) or electronic*4 or electric*4 or (hands adj free) or (contact adj (free or less)))
9 944 hits Combined query 7 AND 8
10 2645 hits (1618 Families) Combined query 1 OR 2 OR 3 OR 6 OR 9

3 Interactive Taxonomy

Automatic Faucets

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4 Dashboard

The Dashboard is Dolcera's visualization platform to present the organized patent landscape

Dashboard Link

Automatic Faucets - Dashboard
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5 Patent Analytics

IP Activity

Assignee Trends

Geographic Activity

6 Sample Analysis

A sample of 10 patents are categorized based on the taxonomy. Problem which a patent addresses and solution to the problem are also included in the analysis. The analysis sheet can be downloaded from the link given below.
Automatic Faucets Analysis Sheet

7 Design Patent Search

7.1 Classifications

Classes related to faucets from US and Locarno classifications are given in the table below.

Classification Class Definition
US Design Class 23/238 ENVIRONMENTAL HEATING AND COOLING; FLUID HANDLING AND SANITARY EQUIPMENT/ Hand or foot operated pump or well curb/ Faucet fixture
23/250 ENVIRONMENTAL HEATING AND COOLING; FLUID HANDLING AND SANITARY EQUIPMENT/ Valve or body therefor/ Element or attachment/ Handle
23/255 ENVIRONMENTAL HEATING AND COOLING; FLUID HANDLING AND SANITARY EQUIPMENT/ Valve or body therefor/ Element or attachment/ Spout
Locarno Class 23/01-F0039 Indication of Goods or Services/ Faucet handles
23/01-F0040 Indication of Goods or Services/ Faucets


7.2 Design Search

A Sample design search for a product of TOTO is shown in the table below.

Product Design Patent
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