Fun in the Sun Patent Style: BBQ Patents

By Steve Brachmann
July 13, 2013

From U.S. Patent No. 8,347,442

The long, hot days of the summer months are perfect for the slow cooking of meat typically referred to as barbecue. This style of cooking is usually associated with the American South; some reports attribute the creation of the barbecue style to Caribbean natives who were encountered by early Spanish settlers in the Americas. Since then, barbecue has become a favorite style among American food aficionados, and is featured in restaurants and cooking contests across America.

Today at IPWatchdog, we’re taking a closer look at some recent innovations to barbecue cooking. The U.S. Patent & Trademark Office has published a number of patent applications, and has issued many patents, dealing with improvements to methods of slow cooking meat.

For issued patents, the USPTO has recently decided to award legal protections to a Nebraskan inventor who has devised a power drill attachment useful for shredding, or “pulling,” meats. A second patent we feature here protects an apparatus that allows grill owners to easier clean a grill grate without wearing out arm muscles through repetitive motion or getting liquid cleansers all over their bodies.

A few patent applications offer an intriguing look into the future of backyard grilling, including methods of reducing unwanted smoke and making grilling safer. A patent application describing an angled grill surface would reduce carcinogens caused by poor drainage of grease and fat. Another patent application would protect the manufacture of a barbecue grill accessory that better transfers heat to food through rotating grill rods. Finally, one last patent application explains an adapter device that can turn most types of grill into a wood smoker.


Cooked Meat Shredding Apparatus
U.S. Patent No. 8469299

Spicy, tangy pulled pork is a favorite at backyard barbecues and restaurants alike. In fact, many meats can be “pulled,” including brisket or beef roast. To pull, a cut of meat is heated at a low cooking temperature for many hours until the connective tissues break down, creating a tender meat that is easily pulled apart by fork or hand. Current methods of pulling are rudimentary, however; most chefs at homes or restaurants use a fork and knife, which is time consuming. Shredding machines exist, but are typically meant for industrial applications for food manufacturers.

This official USPTO patent, awarded to solo inventor Robert Mandeville, protects a shredding implement that can be powered by a hand drill. The shredding implement is a drill attachment that has a number of shredding pins installed at the end of the attachment in a cross pattern. When the drill is operated, the plate containing the pins rotates and shreds the meat once it is cooked.

Claim 1 of this USPTO patent protects:

“A cooked meat shredding apparatus comprising: an elongated shaft, configured to receive a rotational force applied about an axis defined by the elongated shaft; a shredding pin attachment plate disposed on the distal end of the elongated shaft, wherein the elongated shaft is oriented perpendicular to the shredding pin attachment plate, and wherein the elongated shaft is functionally connected to the shredding pin attachment plate at the center of mass of the shredding pin attachment plate, configured to transfer a rotational force applied to the elongated shaft to a plurality of shredding pins; and a plurality of shredding pins comprising: a shredding pin shaft; and a cooked meat piercing spike, disposed on the distal end of the shredding pin shaft, configured to pierce cooked meat, wherein the plurality of shredding pins is disposed on a surface of the shredding pin attachment plate.”

Barbeque Grill Having an Angled Cooking Surface
U.S. Patent Application 20130108750

Barbecue has existed as a form of cooking for hundreds of years, but current methods of cooking barbecue still have some notable shortcomings. Many of these shortcomings are a product of poor drainage systems for grease and fat that escape cooking meats. Grill grates allow these liquids to drip through and away from the meat. However, this grease burns, creating flare-ups that can cook food unevenly. Also, excessive smoke is created when fat boils after hitting charcoal, introducing a lot of cancer-causing carcinogens to the cooking process.

This patent application, filed by Santiago Vitagliano of Miami Beach, FL, describes a cooking device with a slanted grill top composed of a solid corrugated panel. As meat cooks, the fat slides down the slanted corrugated panel and into a drainage trough near the front of the grill. The back of the grill has a fan to help direct smoke away from the food.

As Claim 1 states, Mr. Vitagliano is seeking the right to protect:

“A cooking device, comprising: a frame; a cooking surface supported by the frame, wherein the cooking surface is a solid corrugated panel, and wherein the cooking surface is positioned at a non-horizontal angle by the frame; and a drainage trough positioned adjacent to a lower end of the cooking surface.”

Barbeque Grill Cleaning Device
U.S. Patent No. 8347442

Another major shortcoming of current barbecue grilling systems is the inefficiencies involved with cleaning a grill. Over time, a grill that is used for a lot of food will have grit build up from grease and other food particles. Some people have learned to scrape the grill grate with an onion, which can clean somewhat, but the grill must be lit, putting cleaners in risk of burning their hands. Pulling the grate off and using liquid cleansers provides a more thorough cleaning experiences, but brushing the grill manually wears out a person’s arm and the cleansers can soak a user while cleaning.

This patent, issued to Bernard Micael Peacocke of New Zealand, protects a system of scrubbing a grill grate that consists of a grill cavity and a scrubbing head. The grill is placed inside the cavity, which is shaped to hold the grill steady. Liquid cleansers can be added to the grill cavity until the grill grate is submerged. A rotatable scrubbing head is placed over the grill. As the head rotates, scrubbing brushes underneath scour the grill.

Claim 1 of this patent gives the New Zealand inventor the right to protect:

“A barbeque grill cleaning device comprising: a container having a base and peripheral sidewalls extending from the base defining a cavity shaped and sized for receiving a barbeque grill therein; and a scrubbing head for scrubbing the barbeque grill, the scrubbing head being rotatable relative to the container, such that the cleaning of the barbeque grill is aided by a scrubbing action as a result of contact between the barbeque grill and the rotating scrubbing head; wherein the container comprises one or more grill handle receiving formations for receiving one or more handles extending from at least a first side of the grill, the grill being supportable on the base between a first orientation, wherein at least a portion of a second side of the grill is supported by the base thereby exposing the first side of the grill to the scrubbing action of the scrubbing head, and a second orientation, wherein at least a portion of the first side of the grill is supported by the base thereby exposing the second side of the grill to the scrubbing action of the scrubbing head, the handles of the grill positioned in the container in the second orientation being receivable within the grill handle receiving formations.”

Food Smoker Adapter
U.S. Patent Application No. 20130152803

Barbecue is popular mainly because of its ability to impart flavors to food by cooking foods directly over an open flame. Charcoal is often used to create a heavy smoke flavor, but wood chips from hickory, applewood or other trees can create very unique flavors. Smoker adapters for charcoal or other grills allow cooks to introduce wood smoke when the grill isn’t configured for wood chip use. However, these systems are fairly incompatible between manufacturers, they use metal grates which create uneven heating, and the accessory is typically cumbersome to use and store.

Rick D. Patton of Boise, ID, has devised a new food smoker adapter for use with many styles of grill, including kettle-style, gas or electric. The adapter includes a chamber wherein meat or fish can be hung over a wood chip pan by a skewer. The wood chip pan is placed directly above the heating element, causing the wood chips to smoke when the heating element is on.

Claim 1 of this patent application seeks to protect:

“A food smoker for use with a heat source, which heats wood chips to provide smoke for providing flavor and preservation to food products, the food smoker comprising: a. a smoke chamber, the top of the smoke chamber covered by a lid and the bottom of the smoke chamber resting on a wood chip pan; b. the lid includes a top and sides, the sides are shaped to fit to the top of the smoke chamber, tabs are formed to protrude from sides of the lid and fit into corresponding holes in the smoke chamber, vertical cuts are placed in the lid to either side of each tab allowing the side to be flexed to move the tab, the side of the lid is flexed to insert the tab in the corresponding hole in smoke chamber and the side of the lid is flexed to remove the tab from the hole, a handle is attached to the lid for lifting the lid, with the tabs removed from the hole the lid may be removed from the smoke chamber, with the tabs inserted in the smoke chamber holes the lid is attached to the smoke chamber and lifting the lid lifts the smoke chamber; c. The wood chip pan has a flat bottom providing a stable base for the food smoker the sides of the wood chip pan fit the base of the smoke chamber and support the smoke chamber.”

Barbecue and Barbecue Accessory for Flare Up Prevention, and Improved Temperature Distribution and Heat Retention
U.S. Patent Application 20130125766

We’ve already noted two major shortcomings to barbecue methods: uneven heating, often caused by contact with grill grates or “cold spots” on a grill, and flare-ups from boiling fat and grease. Another issue is the rapid loss of heat caused by lifting the grill top to inspect food, leading to further inconsistencies in cooking. Rotatable heating elements or food skewers have been used in the past to cook foods more evenly, but these solutions don’t work well with rectangular-shaped grills.

This patent application, which has been filed by solo inventor Jonathan D. George of Kenaston, CA, would protect a barbecue accessory specifically made for rectangular grills. The accessory, which replaces the grill grate, involves a series of circular rods that cover the firebox length-wise. These rods are connected to a drive system that rotate the rods in opposite directions. In this manner, the grill’s heat is distributed more evenly, which cooks the food evenly.

As Claim 1 explains, Mr. George is seeking legal protections for:

“A barbecue accessory for use with a barbecue firebox having a bottom wall, peripheral walls projecting upward from the bottom wall around a perimeter thereof, a grill supported over the bottom wall at a height spaced thereabove, and an open top end delimited by the peripheral walls in a shape having a length dimension and a width dimension perpendicular to said length direction, the accessory comprising: a series of longitudinal members arranged side by side and each having a longitudinal dimension sized to fit within the firebox below the open top end thereof in an orientation extending along a first one of the length and width dimensions of the firebox; and a drive system arranged for mounting on the firebox and for engagement with the series of longitudinal members in a manner operable to drive displacement of said series of longitudinal members in each of two opposing directions along a second one of the length and width dimensions of the firebox.”


The Author

Steve Brachmann

Steve Brachmann is a freelance journalist located in Buffalo, New York. He has worked professionally as a freelancer for more than a decade. He writes about technology and innovation. His work has been published by The Buffalo News, The Hamburg Sun,,, Motley Fool and Steve also provides website copy and documents for various business clients and is available for research projects and freelance work.

Warning & Disclaimer: The pages, articles and comments on 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 Read more.

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There are currently 1 Comment comments.

  1. PatentBuddy July 14, 2013 8:43 pm

    Also found the barbecue grill with angled cooking surface!:

    These inventions are indeed being commercialized.