Beware Infringing the Beer Dispensing Patent!
|Written by Gene Quinn
Patent Attorney & Founder of IPWatchdog, Inc.
Principal Lecturer, PLI Patent Bar Review Course Posted: October 29, 2013 @ 7:56 pm
It has been a while since I have seen an issued patent that made me want to jump out of my skin, but earlier today as I was sitting at my desk working, the patent search firm I use — Walsh IP — contacted me with a truly bizarre patent that they stumbled across.
Take a look at U.S. Patent No. 8,240,155, which relates to a method of presenting beer. Actually, the invention is a method for serving beer from a font and includes chilling a beer glass and then dispensing the beer into the glass to create a head of foam on the beer.
Claim 1 of this actually issued patent recites:
1. A method for serving beer from a font, comprising the steps of: chilling a container for beer to a temperature of at least -5° C.; and, filling the container with the beer from the font, the beer being delivered from the font at a temperature above the freezing point of water for creating a drink having a head of foam and crystals of frozen beer formed below the head of foam after filling of the container with the beer.
What is worse is that this patent application was allowed without ever going to final rejection. The applicant filed, made some minor amendments to certain claims and then the patent examiner relented and issued the patent. This is absolutely insulting and really should be investigated. The Patent Office is issuing patents on a method of pouring cold beer into a cold glass while they bury certain software innovations under a sea of unrelenting rejections.
It is hard to believe this is the same Patent Office that will at times actually tell you with a straight face that software is not patent eligible because it merely does what a human could do. This type of ridiculous patent was supposed to be prevented by the Supreme Court’s decision in KSR v. Teleflex! Does the Patent Office have no sense of fairness? How is it fair to put real innovations through many years of arduous patent prosecution and issue a gimmick patent like this for pouring cold beer into a cold glass?
I find this patent so exasperating because the patented method essentially breaks down to nothing more than chilling a container to at least -5° C and then filling that container with beer that is above 0° C.
Originally in this case the patent examiner rejected the claims as being obvious, which in and of itself is shocking. There was nothing that the examiner could find that would be suitable under 102 to reject the pouring of cold beer into a cold glass? Regardless, any number of magazine advertisements or clips from movies, or just observing life in American could have and should have lead a responsible patent examiner to issue an obviousness rejection that could not be overcome. Of course, that is not what happened here.
Ultimately, the patent examiner issued these claims. Here is the examiner’s rationale, which is found in the Reasons for Allowance:
The prior art of record when considered as a whole, alone or in combination, neither anticipates nor renders obvious a method for serving beer comprising chilling a container for beer to a temperature of at least ?5° C; and filling the container with the beer from the font, the beer being delivered from the font at a temperature above the freezing point of water for creating a drink having a head of foam and crystals of frozen beer formed below the head of foam after filling the container with the beer.
So in other words, the patent examiner merely mimicked the claim and seems to have relied upon the result of the method step to somehow impart patentable uniqueness to the method itself.
I wonder how many bars and restaurants are infringing this patent? Perhaps you should warn you favorite watering hole to make sure that any glasses chilled are not chilled to -5° C.- - - - - - - - - -
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About the Author
Gene Quinn is a Patent Attorney and the founder of the popular blog IPWatchdog.com, which has for three of the last four years (i.e., 2010, 2012 and 2103) been recognized as the top intellectual property blog by the American Bar Association. He is also a principal lecturer in the PLI Patent Bar Review Course. As an electrical engineer with a computer engineering focus his specialty is electronic and computer devices, Internet applications, software and business methods.