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It turns out that razor design is rocket science, after all. Or, at least that’s how it seems from the dozens of patents Gillette has filed on its Mach3 line of triple-blade razors. The newest model, the Mach3 Turbo, is protected by 35 different patents. Everything from the spacing of the blades to the cartridge-ejection mechanism to the contour of the handle is covered. We don’t know who’s been working harder: Gillette’s engineers, or its patent prosecutors at Fish & Richardson. Even with all that protection, Syndia Corp., a Chicago-based licensing company, was able to pierce Gillette’s armor. In June 2002, a jury in Chicago federal court ruled that Gillette’s Mach3, Mach3 Turbo and Venus razors infringed two of Syndia’s patents for a razor blade coating and awarded Syndia $10 million. The case has since settled. The lesson: Don’t leave any blade uncovered. #6,216,349 SAFETY RAZORS Single-blade razors are so 1901. But designing a triple-blade razor is no easy feat. To reduce “frictional drag forces” — and to avoid cutting up skin — Gillette positions its blades at hyper-precise positions. Keeping the edge of each blade 1.5 mm apart gets you a close shave. It gets copycats a lawsuit. #5,855,071 RAZOR HANDLE Sure, it looks like a simple plastic tab, but the “spring biased plunger” helps liberate the blade from its dispenser and place it into your razor. Without it, you’ve got a blade as stranded as Shackleton, and a face like Grizzly Adams’. #5,918,369 SHAVING SYSTEM AND METHOD Even empty space has a (patented) purpose on the Mach3 razor. Here, the “unobstructed rinsing region” allows for easy cleaning of the blades. #6,185,822 SHAVING SYSTEM These strips contain “shaving aids” — chemicals that reduce irritation and discomfort. Gillette’s patent covers dozens of different substances used in every possible combination. Don’t infringe unless you’re willing to pronounce “polyvinyl pyrrolidone” and “polyhydroxyethylmethacrylate” in open court. #5,822,869 RAZOR HANDLE No detail is too small for Gillette’s patent attorneys. Even the metallic-colored plastic of the handle — ahem, “elongated hand gripping structure” — is covered. #6,029,354 SHAVING SYSTEM AND METHOD The pivoting support structure lets the cartridge move to follow the contours of a face. This enables the blades to get just the right angle of attack. #5,784,790 SHAVING RAZOR AND METHOD Pressing this button activates the U-shaped ejector, the Mach3′s on-board blade bouncer. When it extends from the handle, your cartridge is history.

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