April 9, 2005 in Business

There’s no patent on a PBJ, court rules

Associated Press
 
Associated Press photo

Packages of Smucker’s peanut butter and jelly sandwiches can be seen in this photograph provided by the J.M Smucker Company.
(Full-size photo)

WASHINGTON — There’s only so far you can go in trying to patent the ever-popular peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

On Friday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit rejected an effort by J.M. Smucker Co. to patent its process for making pocket-size peanut butter and jelly pastries called “Uncrustables.”

Smucker’s 2-ounce peanut butter and jelly pockets come in two flavors — strawberry and grape — and are enclosed without a crust using a crimping method that the Orrville, Ohio, company says is one of a kind and should be protected from duplication by federal law.

Patent examiners at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office disagreed, saying the crimped edges are similar to making ravioli or a pie crust.

Smucker already owns a general patent, which it purchased from Len Kretchman and David Geske, two Fargo, N.D., men who came up with the idea in 1995 and had been baking the products for school children.

The two cases before the appeals court involved two additional patents that Smucker was seeking to expand its original patent by protecting its method.

The company had appealed the initial rejection to the patent office’s Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences, but that body upheld the decision to reject the patents.

Smucker then took the case to the appeals court, which entered a judgment Friday, without comment, affirming the patent office’s decision.

Meanwhile, the company’s original patent is being re-examined by the patent office.

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