Trailer Bridge, Inc. announced that the United States Patent and Trademark Office
(USPTO) awarded Patent No. 6,416,264 on July 9, 2002 to Trailer Bridge as assignee for its invention known as the Vehicle Transportation Module® (VTM®). The inventors are Ralph W. Heim
, J. Edward Morley and P.W. Shahani. Heim is President and Chief Operating Officer of Trailer Bridge and Morley is Vice President of Operations. Shahani is a consulting engineer who has provided services to the Company.
The VTM® container is a module for receiving motorized vehicles for transportation that interchanges easily between transport modes without the necessity of re-handling the vehicles. The VTM® containers are uniquely designed for damage-free vehicle transport and offer multi-modal capability, including truck, rail, and water. They are also available in different heights to accommodate regular passenger vehicles as well as larger trucks and sport utility vehicles. The VTM® container was developed in conjunction with the construction of five new Triplestack Box Carrier® (TBC®) vessels that began entering service in 1998. This patent includes 26 specifically enumerated claims and will remain in force for up to 20 years after its filing date.
Combining the best features of roll-on, roll-off and lift-on, lift-off, the VTM® container has been successfully used in transporting over twenty thousand vehicles between US mainland ports and Puerto Rico. Trailer Bridge believes the range of potential uses for the VTM® container extends beyond the ocean transportation sector and will continue to explore various further applications.
The application for the VTM® container patent was initially filed in 1999 and the Company has made additional submissions in response to USPTO staff observations prior to the final award. Trailer Bridge presently has another patent application pending before the USPTO related to the methods involved in loading, unloading and moving freight on its innovative Triplestack Box Carrier® vessels. Generally referred to as a process patent, this application was initially filed in 1998 and Trailer Bridge and its patent advisers continue to respond to USPTO staff observations related to that patent application.
John D. McCown, Chairman & CEO, stated, “The award of our first patent is a landmark event for our entire organization, underscoring as it does our continuing focus on developing innovative hard assets that provide tangible freight benefits to our customers. I, on behalf of the entire Trailer Bridge team, would like to congratulate Ralph, Ed and P.W. on this outstanding milestone! As the first two recipients of the Malcom P. McLean Innovative Spirit Award, our annual employee award in honor of the late founder of Trailer Bridge who was the leading transportation innovator of the 20th century, Ralph and Ed’s invention builds on a tradition of developing better assets for moving freight.”