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Court Denies Smucker's PB&J Patent 388

Posted by Zonk
from the line-in-the-sand dept.
lbmouse writes "The AP is reporting that on Friday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit rejected an effort by the Jelly & Jam maker to patent its process for making pocket peanut butter and jelly sandwiches." While the company was only trying to patent the "crimping process" used to create a specific type of mass market sandwich, they had also "...asked Albie's Foods of Gaylord, Mich., to stop producing ready-made PB&J sandwiches for a school district".
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Court Denies Smucker's PB&J Patent

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  • by Hulkster (722642) on Friday April 08, 2005 @11:40PM (#12184110) Homepage
    Maybe I can sue anyone who tries to use the technique my Mom uses for making Hash Browns?!? [komar.org]

    For those that don't RTFA, Smucker actually allready had a patent from 1995, but this rejection "involved two additional patents that Smucker was seeking to expand its original patent by protecting its method." I.e. they still have the original patent for their method of making a P&J sandwich, but "the company's original patent is being re-examined by the patent office."

    Hulk SMASH Celiac Disease [komar.org]

  • US Army... (Score:5, Informative)

    by The Hobo (783784) on Friday April 08, 2005 @11:43PM (#12184131)
    I once saw a show on the television that said the US army already crimps PB&J sandwiches as a type of combat ration... they last for a while, apparently!
  • As an aussie (Score:3, Informative)

    by G-funk (22712) <josh@gfunk007.com> on Friday April 08, 2005 @11:43PM (#12184134) Homepage Journal
    I have to ask, what in the bloody hell is a "pocket" peanut butter and jam sandiwch?
  • "Uncrustables" (Score:4, Informative)

    by jangobongo (812593) on Friday April 08, 2005 @11:50PM (#12184182)
    Smuckers has a picture of them here [smuckers.com].

    Apparently they are found in the frozen foods aisle of the grocery store as the the page says, "All you do is thaw and serve."
  • by wdd1040 (640641) on Friday April 08, 2005 @11:50PM (#12184188)
    Is the U.S. Patent system really that backwards?

    Yes.
  • Re:As an aussie (Score:3, Informative)

    by NitsujTPU (19263) on Friday April 08, 2005 @11:52PM (#12184195)
    Smuckers sells PB&J sandwiches that are little round circles. The circles look like they are made by a process involving 2 pieces of bread thusly, but I really don't know the process:

    1) Take 2 slices of bread
    2) Dollop PB&J in the center
    3) Put a ring on top, and one on bottom, smash the rings together crushing the dough into a crimped solid bit of dough.


    Heres a product link [smuckers.com]
  • by TheWanderingHermit (513872) on Saturday April 09, 2005 @12:02AM (#12184265)
    Yes, you're right.

    One major point on the patent was that, when making a PBJ, the J seeps through the bread. To solve that problem, Smuckers put PB on BOTH pieces of bread.

    And patented that!

    They got a patent on putting PB on both bread slices instead of just one!

    And we wonder how the one-click-order got patented!
  • by UpLateDrinkingCoffee (605179) on Saturday April 09, 2005 @12:03AM (#12184274)
    Sounds like the innovation is a second layer of peanut butter to encase the jam and also the crimping. Here, you be the judge: Abstract

    A method of making a crustless sandwich from two slices of bread with outer crusts, the method comprising: placing a first slice of bread on a platen; forming a mass of a first food spread onto the central portion of the first slice of bread in a position spaced inwardly from a marginal area where the mass is formed with an inner lower layer with an outer rim extending upwardly from the lower layer to define a closed pocket or receptacle recess in the mass; placing a second food spread in the receptacle recess; closing the receptacle recess with a layer of the first food spread generally coextensive with the mass and supported on the outer rim of the mass to encapsulate the second food spread into a center composite food layer; placing a second slice of bread over the first slice to cover the center composite food layer; cutting the bread slices in unison in a cut pattern to remove the crusts of the slices; and, pressing the two bread slices together by force through the slices against a pressure surface on the platen to crimp the slices into a crustless sandwich.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 09, 2005 @12:04AM (#12184287)
    The US Court of Appeals invalidated the patent. The stupid motherfuckers at the patent office actually granted the thing.

    It's starting to look like patents are drifting well past their original purpose. Overhaul the system, or ditch the suckers completely.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 09, 2005 @12:09AM (#12184326)
    Actually the patents are broken down into groups based on technology (chemical, electrical, mechanical, etc..) and then further broken down into subgroups of those. Examiners who would be working on food (PB&J) would never get patents for computers (username/password).

    Although, I doubt mundane facts like that will stop you from ranting about that which you know little to nothing about.
  • Re:As a lazy-ass (Score:3, Informative)

    by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Saturday April 09, 2005 @01:22AM (#12184730)
    It seems like a really stupid patent, until you try those sandwiches. They are GOOD. For someone who doesn't like to spend a lot of time cooking (or in the case of the PBJ, getting the components together), and also as a guy who never got over the whole crusts thing (hate them, cut them off, always), this thing is a godsend. Laugh all you like, but try one first.

    Earth to lazy-ass, come in lazy-ass.

    These things taste like ass, lazy, pre-processed ass

    It takes about 90 seconds to put together a real PBJ sandwich and put the remaining components back into storage and lick the knife. To avoid eating crust (what are you 2 years old?) you tear the crust off one side and start eating there until you've eaten out everything but the remaining crust, which you then throw away!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 09, 2005 @01:38AM (#12184804)
    Well, I certainly have been practising prior art all my days.
  • by srmalloy (263556) on Saturday April 09, 2005 @01:43AM (#12184835) Homepage
    For those that don't RTFA, Smucker actually allready had a patent from 1995, but this rejection "involved two additional patents that Smucker was seeking to expand its original patent by protecting its method." I.e. they still have the original patent for their method of making a P&J sandwich, but "the company's original patent is being re-examined by the patent office."

    Unless Smuckers came up with a really unique way of 'crimping the edges' to seal the sandwich, then I'd have to argue against it on the basis of prior art going back to a tool that I first saw back when I was a Boy Scout; it was two metal rods hinged together at one end with handles at the other, sort of like a nutcracker, but the arms were about two feet long. Near the hinge on each rod was a circular dished metal plate. You buttered two slices of bread, put one on one of the plates, added some filling (jam, meat, PB&J, etc), put the other slice on top, and closed the arms; this clamped the two plates together, cutting off the crust and sealing the 'sandwich' inside; you then stuck it into a fire to brown the bread, giving you a sort of pasty or fruit pie (depending on the filling. And this was back in the late '60s, so 'prior art' has been around for a while.

  • Re:Jesus! (Score:4, Informative)

    by MillionthMonkey (240664) on Saturday April 09, 2005 @01:56AM (#12184882)
    If the system was working the way it was supposed to, this patent & 90% of the others would be laughed out of the Patent Office front door.

    But it was. The USPTO cited ravioli as prior art. Smucker's appealed the denial of their application, and that's how it got into court.
  • by jeti (105266) on Saturday April 09, 2005 @05:46AM (#12185931) Homepage
    You don't infringe upon the patent when you tell other people about this method to prepare a sandwich.

    You infringe upon the patent when you use this method to create your sandwich without having obtained a license. The idea of patent law is explicitly to make inventions public knowledge. If you would not have figured out how to prepare the sandwich, you could have searched the USPTO database for an appropriate method.

    You seem to confuse patent law with the DMCA, where you're not allowed to inform about how to cicumvent copy protection measures. Or maybe you confuse it with the PATRIOT act, where you're not allowed to disclose that you have been searched etc.
  • by burdalane (798477) on Saturday April 09, 2005 @08:47AM (#12186478)
    I only started making PB&J sandwiches recently because my mom never made them when I was a kid. I put PB on both slices because it didn't occur to me to only put it on 1 slice. (I mean, something should go on the other slice, right?) Well, no cease-and-desist letters for me!
  • by Ada_Rules (260218) on Saturday April 09, 2005 @09:27AM (#12186642) Homepage Journal
    Those things aren't very healthy. They are high in sodium (260mg), as most prepackaged foods are. You're much better off making a PBJ from scratch. The regular jar of Smuckers Jelly has 0mg sodium in it.
    Yes yes..Evil company is bad sticking sodium into this food so they can kill our children...I love how you point out that Jelly has 0 mg of sodium and yet these things have 260 mg... Gee..I wonder why..

    Let me go make my own..Ok..I'll start with 2 slices of healthy wheat bread. Add a serving of peanut butter and top it off with that special 0 mg jelly you found.

    Bread - 128mg sodium per slice = 256 mg

    2 Tbsp of peanut butter =150 mg

    Total for my homemade version = 406 mg sodium

    Whew, thank god a dodged that corporate bullet and made my own at home.

Nothing is more admirable than the fortitude with which millionaires tolerate the disadvantages of their wealth. -- Nero Wolfe

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