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Applied DNA Gets Approval for Cotton Tagging Patent Application

Molecular technology firm Applied DNA Sciences is extending the patent coverage for its method of tagging cotton at the ginning stage.

The company has received a notice of allowance for its U.S. patent application covering its DNA Transfer System (DTS) that tags cotton fibers as they pass through the forced air of a gin, as well as the procedure of authenticating tagged cotton. Part of Applied DNA’s CertainT cotton platform, DTS is an automated approach to proving the provenance and authenticity of fibers. Titled “Method and Device for Marking Fibrous Materials,” the patent is expected to be issued in the coming months.

With risks in cotton including false organic claims and forced labor, being able to trace the journey of a fiber back to the raw material stage has become increasingly valuable.

“Despite the downturn in global economic activity that has impacted the global textile supply chains we serve, supply chain certainty and social responsibility remain fundamental to the textile industry’s long-term strategy,” said Dr. James Hayward, president and CEO of Applied DNA. “We believe the COVID-19 pandemic has increased consumer awareness of the need for authenticity in such textiles as those used in personal protective equipment. When economic activity within the industry ramps, we believe that our CertainT platform is well-positioned to address the critical issues of traceability and authenticity in our traditional home textiles base, as well as new apparel opportunities currently being explored.”

DTS is a fully automated system that can run round-the-clock. Each day, it provides 90,000 data points such as the date, time, place and who tagged the cotton. Wherever the machines are in the world, they feed real-time data back to Applied DNA’s Stony Brook, N.Y. headquarters. The data is housed in a secure cloud-based system, allowing cotton producers to verify that a cotton bale indeed comes from a particular farm and gin via a unique bale ID.

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“The advantage of tagging over and above any other traceability system is that once you tagged it, you know it’s your cotton, you know it’s working in your supply chain because you can tag and then you can test it and track it,” MeiLin Wan, vice president of textile sales at Applied DNA, told Sourcing Journal.

To-date, Applied DNA has tagged more than 300 million pounds of cotton in markets including the U.S., Australia and Egypt. Beyond cotton, the patent also protects use of the method for fibers like viscose, polyester and cannabis.

More than $1 billion worth of retail goods contain cotton verified with Applied DNA’s tagging. The use of this method has largely been focused on home textiles, but the company is working to expand into apparel products.

Applied DNA holds an existing patent for its DTS process, and it has patents pending for the method in international markets. This latest U.S. patent also has global implications. “It’s a U.S. patent, but the claims around this also relate to some other international patents that we filed as well,” Wan explained. “So it gives U.S. protection, but also global reach.”

For Applied DNA, the patent gives the company the ability to license the technology to its partners.

“A patent basically says it’s a unique process, and if you follow the instructions that are going to be licensed to you by Applied DNA, then you can do it yourself, and then you can build a business around it,” Wan said. “So it gives companies and manufacturers a competitive advantage to use the system under a certainty platform.”