It is that time of year where we annually pause as a nation, taking time out of our busy lives to visit family, watch football, eat too much turkey and other holiday foods, and read about patents that related to turkeys in one way, shape or form.
Well, most of the nation won’t be engaging in the later, but obviously you are here, it is a holiday and you are reading IPWatchdog.com. Predicting you were going to spend a portion of the day reading about patents that in some way relate to turkeys was really a lay-up in the world of predictions and prognostications!
This year I’m going to throw in a twist. The patent de jour for our Thanksgiving consideration circa 2018 isn’t a patent at all, or at least not yet.
Those familiar with the patent system know that any “invention” can be published by the United States Patent and Trademark Office in a patent application if someone is willing to file a patent application and pay the fees, which leads to many things of dubious character and quality being published in patent applications. So writing about published patent applications is not something I typically like to do, but when I saw the invention embodied in U.S. Patent Application No. 20180262418, I knew instantly this was going to be the topic of my Thanksgiving Day article.
The patent application in question is titled Rotisserie Turkey Deep Fryer, which at first read made me chuckle, then get a little scared, and then begin to contemplate would could possibly go wrong with a rotisserie over a turkey deep fryer? I can almost hear the All-State commercial writing itself now!
But then I started to investigate (i.e., read) the application. I first noticed that the law firm involved in representing the inventors are my friends Patterson Thuente Pedersen, P.A., in Minneapolis, MN. I then noticed there were a lot of drawings, which if you’ve ever heard me speak on best practices for drafting a patent application you know is a pet peeve of mine — I believe patent attorneys and agents typically don’t file enough drawings. Many drawings are the single best way to economically expand any disclosure. And then I noticed that this invention essentially a french fryer cooker crossed with a rotisserie. Interesting. But wait, there is more, much more.
The deep fryer here includes a rotisserie assembly for mounting and rotating a whole turkey such that only a lower half of the whole turkey is submerged within the cooking oil at any one time. This substantially reduces the amount of cooking oil that is required.
The Detailed Description explains:
During cooking, the whole turkey is preferably rotated through the heated cooking oil at a rate of 1-2 rpm. In the case of a 15 pound turkey with the cooking oil at 375° F., the whole turkey can be completely cooking in approximately 60 minutes. Following cooking, the user turns off the motor button 177 and power button 170 to stop the rotisserie action. Next, the user slidably retracts the engagement switch 246 to disengage the shaft coupler 244 and the motor shaft 179. Using the mount handle 198, the user then begins lifting the front mounting assembly 192 out of the basin opening 130. The user then rotates the rotatable support member 117 to the supporting orientation 270 and lowers the mount handle 198such that the mounting notches 216 engage the support notches 119a, 119b and the whole turkey is supported above the basin opening 130 and any cooking oil on the whole turkey is allowed to drip back into the frying basin 120. Once the whole turkey has rested and the cooking oil has dripped back into the frying basin 120, the user can lift the rotisserie assembly 190 off of the drip proof housing 152 and the upper basin lip 129, whereby the whole turkey can be carried to a cutting location. The user then detaches the spit arms 254a, 254b from the front spit plate 250 and the spit arms 254a, 254b can be withdrawn from the whole turkey.
Sounds a lot easier than using a typical turkey fryer, and the problems associated with not allowing Archimedes to be your guide seem almost nullified.
I think this invention is creative, and I’d love to buy this invention when it becomes available on the market. In the meantime, it certainly wouldn’t surprise me if the claims were initially rejected, because that is what some examiners do. Still, I’d love to hear the argument articulated by an examiner that it would have been obvious to cross a rotisserie with a french fryer to cook a Thanksgiving Turkey. Really? It certainly seems the inventors have figured out how to do it in a safety conscious way, but who else had the same first reaction I had? A rotisserie turkey deep fryer? That strikes me as the very definition of ‘anything but obvious’! I’ll be watching.
Regardless, if you are going to deep fry your turkey, please remember 2 things (at least). First, make sure the turkey is thawed, you don’t want to put something frozen into a pot of boiling oil! Nothing good is going to happen! Second, for goodness sakes don’t fill the turkey fryer to the top with oil and then put in the turkey! Let Archimedes be your guide. If you fill the fryer to the top with oil the boiling oil that overflows the cooking vessel will be equal in volume to that of the turkey you just dropped into the cooking vessel! Of course, that might be the least of your worries (at least immediately) since the displaced heated oil will come into contact with whatever flame you are using— that will become your most immediate problem.
For other turkey and Thanksgiving themed patents please see these other articles:
For more festive patents check out our Holiday Patents page too!