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Showing posts from April, 2018

Food Patents and Coca Cola's Strategy

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Food patents can be challenging in some situations.  For example, protection of a recipe may require its full disclosure, and at the same time may be difficult to enforce.  For this reason, Coke-Cola Corporation has kept their recipe trade secret, which prevents Coke-Cola from legally blocking anyone from mimicking their recipe, but also mitigates the likelihood that a competitor will be able to determine the exact details easily.  However, this does not mean Coke-Cola completely ignores patent protection.  U.S. Patent No. 8,940,351, which is titled Baked Goods Comprising High-Potency Sweetener discusses adjusting a composition of baked goods with artificial sweeteners, rebaudioside A and erythritol, while maintaining a flavor profile.  Coke-Cola has received similar patents with regard to cereal (see U.S. Patent No. 8,940,350, which is titled Cereal Compositions Comprising High-Potency Sweeteners).   This strategy illustrates that pursuing food patents selectively may be an optimal st…

Innovation and Utility Model Patents

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In the US, we have two types of patents relevant to most industrial clients (putting plant patents aside for now) - utility patents and design patents. Both have different uses and any virtually every industrial business should have a strategy on how to effectively use them. However, US-based companies often do not even realize, let alone make a part of their strategy, so-called utility model (or innovation) patents that are available in most of the important non-US countries.
Some of the advantageous aspects of utility model patents is their lower cost and quick timing. While they often have reduced term (e.g., 10 years rather than the more typical 20 years), often they can exist in combination with regular invention and design patents (although not always, such as in China). Companies that have world-class patent portfolios invariably make strategic use of utility model filings and if your current US IP counsel gives you a blank stare when you ask them, consider reaching out to som…