You'll never eat lunch in this town again (without paying a royalty)

>> Monday, December 01, 2008

Slashdot brought this to my attention: McDonald's patent application for sandwich making.


There are reasons for thinking this won't go through. Thank goodness. But it's yet another demonstration of just how defective the entire intellectual property regime has gotten. It's a patent for making sandwiches. There's a sandwich-making flowchart, for fuck's sake!

Madness, I tell you.

Not even lunch is sacred anymore.


Random Michelle K Monday, December 1, 2008 at 8:41:00 AM EST  

I'm guessing you never had the joy of working fast food.

Eric Monday, December 1, 2008 at 12:22:00 PM EST  

My pre-professional resume includes a stint at Wendy's. And a stretch at a Quincy's steakhouse, which isn't technically fast food but I'd hardly call it a restaurant either: that weird hybrid of fast food and sitdown and quasi-cafeteria that is the American chain buffet steakhouse.

(For those unfamiliar with Quincy's, think Western Sizzlin or Ryan's with a different sign. All these places are the same, except for the sign. You go in, and there's a winding line to get a tray you may not actually ever use, and a glass of soda that you serve yourself, and possibly plates that will be taken away and filled for you if you actually get a steak instead of helping yourself to the salad bar or the hot buffet, with its fried chicken and green beans by the metric ton.)

Random Michelle K Monday, December 1, 2008 at 12:56:00 PM EST  

Then I'm surprised you needed to ask the question of why they needed a flowchart. (sigh)

Eric Monday, December 1, 2008 at 1:27:00 PM EST  

The flowchart is from their patent application, Michelle. I have no doubt that some people need a flowchart to make a sandwich, but this particular flowchart is for McDonald's "new and useful" sandwich-making process that the company claims should provide them with enforceable rights against others who might make sandwiches by a similar process (with or without formal consultation of the flowchart), and was generated for the benefit of patent clerks, intellectual property attorneys, and rival sandwich-making businesses who need to be warned-off from attempting to make sandwiches in a similar manner.

If it were generated for employees, that would be sad but maybe not unexpected.

Instead, it was generated so they can sue you if you open a restaurant that sells sandwiches that you make in a fashion similar to the patented McDonald's Sandwich Process.

Jim Wright Monday, December 1, 2008 at 2:25:00 PM EST  

Well, now let's not be hasty, Eric.

I myself have just filled a patent application, complete with flowchart graphics, of a proprietary process for ass wiping.

I'm telling you, anybody else attempted to wipe their ass using my technique is going to pay...


Random Michelle K Monday, December 1, 2008 at 4:06:00 PM EST  

So McDonald's is sending spies into the back of restaurants around the country...

Jim, I thought that was about appropriate.

Carol Elaine Monday, December 1, 2008 at 4:55:00 PM EST  

For me, that falls under the "I am so not surprised" file. This is McDonald's we're talking about. I'm surprised they didn't patent the word "hamburger."

Jim, if you use 2-ply toilet paper to wipe your ass, I'd advise against trying to get a patent for that. Because I've held that patent for over twenty years and I will sic my lawyers on you if it's discovered that you're infringing on my ass-wiping patent.

1-ply, however? Knock yourself out.

MWT Monday, December 1, 2008 at 5:14:00 PM EST  

All 1-ply means is that you take double the amount off the roll. (Triple, if you're thinking ill thoughts about whoever decided to put a 1-ply roll there.)

And doesn't Subway have a patented loaf-cutting pattern? Where it's in a v-shape so stuff doesn't fall out of the sandwich? I vaguely recall hearing something about that the first time I went to a Blimpie's.

Carol Elaine Monday, December 1, 2008 at 5:39:00 PM EST  

MWT, I don't know if Subway patented that or not, but I do know that in the Greater L.A. area, no Subway uses that technique anymore. I kind of miss it.

As for your 1-ply comment, well, using up more paper means more packages bought, which is better for the stockholders. Not that I know any stockholders...

*whistles innocently*

Anne C. Monday, December 1, 2008 at 9:09:00 PM EST  

Damn, you arrive late at the party and everyone else has taken all the good lines. 'Course, then you don't have to come up with any yourself, just whine about missing the opportunity.
Hmmm... wonder if that's been patented?

John the Scientist Monday, December 1, 2008 at 10:17:00 PM EST  

The Patent Office does not do a great job of policing its rule of not being able to patent something "obvious to someone skilled in the art", as the patent lawyers say, but if they do realize they made a goof in that direction, they have been known th rescind
the patent, as they did for patent # 6,004,596, the one Smuckers made for crustless PB&J sandwiches.h

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