Process for de-boning a turkey

By Gene Quinn
November 23, 2017

This year on Thanksgiving I find myself recovering from back surgery, so in addition to my annual thank you message to readers — your reading makes this all possible and worthwhile — I have a few other “thank you” messages to share.

Without getting into all the particulars, my surgeon says the surgery was a success. So this year I am thankful for having a wonderful medical team guiding me through this process. I am also thankful for the innovative work of Dr. Gary Michelson, who pioneered minimally invasive spinal surgery, turning operations like the one I had into rather routine procedures that are often done on an out patient basis. I am also thankful for the prayers and well wishes from those who knew I was having the surgery. And last, but certainly not least, I am thankful for the constant help of my wife Renee. Without Renee I don’t know how I could have managed the last 10 days. She has been truly wonderful (as always)!

Despite not getting around well and not being able to lift anything heavier than a gallon of milk for the next month, I am still in a festive mood this Thanksgiving. That being the case I thought it appropriate to profile one of my favorite holiday patents, which covers a process for de-boning a turkey. Enjoy, and Happy Thanksgiving!

Process for de-boning a turkey
US Patent No. 6,572,467
Issued June 3, 2003

Process of deboning a turkey

There are only two claims, with the first one being very specific indeed, which is not particularly unusual, although it does certainly cut down on the definition of what would infringe.  Nevertheless, this method is a worthwhile invention, particularly for this time of the year.

One thing worth pointing out about this patent is the fact that there are an extremely large number of drawings, 31 figures in fact.  First, every patent application, even a provisional patent application, requires at least one figure if a drawing can be provided to help understand the invention.  This means that drawings are always required unless you are claiming a chemical composition, in which case the formula will suffice alone, or a method.  Still, with methods there is almost always something that can be depicted in an illustration and, therefore, should be. In at least one case I was involved with the illustrations of the claimed method proved pivotal in gaining an allowance from a patent examiner.

Second, I am a big fan of lots of drawings.  Multiple, even seemingly redundant drawings are frequently useful because it gives the opportunity to show various views or to break down the invention and show drawings of one or more of the component parts, or in this case method steps. With a method, creating a storyboard can sometimes be quite useful.

The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, the chief patent law court in the United States, has frequently consulted drawings in order to determine what one of skill in the art would have considered disclosed at the time the application was filed.  Detailed drawings are indeed worth one thousand words, if not more.  This is true because if you accidentally leave something out of the written disclosure, the drawings you submit may save you in the long run, provided of course they are detailed enough to convey nuanced information about your invention. This is not to say that you should skimp on the written disclosure, but detailed drawings can and do provide a safety net in many cases. Moreover, the more figures the more textual explanation there will be because you should always write at least a paragraph or two about every figure, at a minimum. See Working with Patent Illustrations to Create a Complete Disclosure

Here is what the Abstract says:

A method of de-boning a fowl comprises; making an incision along a leg bone, exposing a leg joint between the leg bone and the rest of the turkey, severing the leg joint; removing two segments of a wing; making an incision along a third segment of the wing; exposing a wing joint between the wing bone of the third segment and the rest of the turkey, severing the wing joint; making an incision along the back of the fowl, separating the flesh of the back from the backbone and ribcage; severing a joint between the thighbone and the rest of the fowl; making an incision along a shoulderbone; removing a ribcage from the rest of the fowl; separating flesh from a breastbone and removing the breastbone; removing a wishbone; making an incision along a thighbone, exposing and severing the thigh joint.

Background of the Invention:

Typically, turkeys, and other fowl, are cooked with the bones left inside. In part, this is because it can be difficult to remove the bones from the turkey, adding greatly to the time necessary to prepare the meal. De-boning the turkey prior to cooking by known methods may also be undesirable because it involves cutting the turkey into multiple pieces, making for a less visually appealing presentation.

However, there are problems with cooking a turkey that still has the bones in it. The turkey is quite large, and requires both a large cooking dish and a great deal of oven space. Furthermore, the time needed to cook the turkey is much greater–in some cases, as much as 3 hours greater. And, of course, even after the turkey is cooked, the bones must still be removed, either by carving during serving, or during consumption by the individuals actually consuming the turkey.

Therefore, what is needed is a method for de-boning a turkey prior to cooking such that it can be cooked more rapidly and with less oven space, which leaves the turkey in substantially one piece to provide a good visual presentation, and eliminates the need for carving around the bones during serving or consumption.

From our family to yours, Happy Thanksgiving! And thank you for reading IPWatchdog.com!

For other turkey and Thanksgiving themed articles and patents please see:

For more festive patents check out our Holiday Patents page too!

The Author

Gene Quinn

Gene Quinn is a Patent Attorney and Editor and founder of IPWatchdog.com. Gene is also a principal lecturer in the PLI Patent Bar Review Course and an attorney with Widerman Malek. Gene’s specialty is in the area of strategic patent consulting, patent application drafting and patent prosecution. He consults with attorneys facing peculiar procedural issues at the Patent Office, advises investors and executives on patent law changes and pending litigation matters, and works with start-up businesses throughout the United States and around the world, primarily dealing with software and computer related innovations. is admitted to practice law in New Hampshire, is a Registered Patent Attorney and is also admitted to practice before the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. CLICK HERE to send Gene a message.

Warning & Disclaimer: The pages, articles and comments on IPWatchdog.com do not constitute legal advice, nor do they create any attorney-client relationship. The articles published express the personal opinion and views of the author and should not be attributed to the author’s employer, clients or the sponsors of IPWatchdog.com. Read more.

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  1. Paul Cole November 23, 2017 2:59 pm

    May I respectfully add a GET WELL SOON message to this posting, and hope that you are soon BACK in business.

    And very best wishes from the UK to Gene, Renee and family, the many contributors to this blog, the commentators and indeed all readers.

    For the avoidance of doubt we eat turkey for Christmas. The meal on Christmas day used to be roast goose, but it was largely superseded by turkey about the time when Charles Dickens wrote the Christmas Carol, as recorded in the final chapter where Scrooge reforms.

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