Monday, January 09, 2006

Ridiculous Patent: Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwich

What do you get when you take a regular peanut butter and jelly sandwich, cut off the crust and crimp the edges (like a Kellog's Pop-Tart)? You get USPTO Patent Number 6,004,596 and a monopoly on building this sandwich until at least 2019. And Smuckers (the owner of this wonderful invention) have already shown that they will enforce their patent by calling out the lawyers -- just ask Albie's Foods of Gaylord, Michigan, who were forced to stop making their "E.Z. Jammer" sandwich until they settled with Smuckers for an undisclosed sum, despite the fact that this type of sandwich had been made and sold in northern Michigan since the 19th century.

If you'd like to know more about this example of how our current patent system provides a means to crush innovation, stifle competition, and reinforce the strength of large corporations over smaller business and independent inventors, head over to MIT's Technology Review, or take a look at the Wikipedia entry.


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