Anticipate This!™ | Patent and Trademark Law Blog

Discovery of Coca-Cola’s Secret Formula?

Posted in Science and Technology by Jake Ward on February 15, 2011

Coca-Cola® soda has been a favorite of ours for quite some time . . . and not just from a taste standpoint.  The registered Coca-Cola® mark with respect to soda products provides a great example in discussing trademark law.  Additionally, the formula behind the Coca-Cola® soda is an excellent tale of trade secret protection.  We often share the story that only two people at the Coca-Cola® company know how to mix the secret “7X flavoring ingredient” at any given time. This is certainly one way of taking reasonable steps to maintain the secrecy of the information!

Interestingly, this recent article discusses the discovery by producers of the radio program This American Life of what appears to be a photo of the original soda formulation.  This photo could render the “trade secret” formulation available for the public to freely make and use.  When the discovered formula was taste-tested, however, it was apparently close . . . but not exactly the same.

Trade secrets, when used properly, can be a useful form of intellectual property protection.  However, this article illustrates one negative aspect of trade secret protection, which is information that becomes publicly available or is otherwise reverse-engineered (assuming no misappropriation or theft of the trade secret under state laws), can limit one’s right to claim and protect the information as “trade secret”. 

For those who are interested in making some original Coca-Cola® soda in their garage and/or bathtub this evening, the “secret” formula (according to the article) is as follows:

The recipe:

Fluid extract of Coca: 3 drams USP
Citric acid: 3 oz
Caffeine: 1 oz
Sugar: 30 (unclear quantity)
Water: 2.5 gal
Lime juice: 2 pints, 1 quart
Vanilla: 1 oz
Caramel: 1.5 oz or more for color

The secret 7X flavor (use 2 oz of flavor to 5 gals syrup):
Alcohol:  8 oz
Orange oil: 20 drops
Lemon oil: 30 drops
Nutmeg oil: 10 drops
Coriander: 5 drops
Neroli: 10 drops
Cinnamon: 10 drops

They Invented What? (No. 195)

Posted in They Invented What? by Jake Ward on February 9, 2011

U.S. Pat. No. 5,500,234: Crispy chip sandwich and process of producing a sandwich product.

What is claimed is:

1. A process of producing an improved multilayered crispy chip type sandwich food product suitable for being packaged and shipped to detail stores substantially without degradation of the crispyness of the chips, consisting of the steps of:
          selecting two or more crispy chips (11) from the group consisting of potato chips, corn chips, rice cakes, oat crackers and wheat crackers;
          coating at least one side of each said crispy chip with a marshmallow like food product;
          aligning said crispy chips in spaced apart disposition;
          inserting an intermediate filler food product selected from the group consisting of substances generally known as peanut butter, chocolate, coconut, jelly, jams, candy, marmalades, syrups, fruits and extracts, with each selected filler layer being disposed between and bonded to a respective pair of opposite facing said marshmallow like layers to form a substantially united food product of discrete food layers.

USPTO Proposal for “Track One” Accelerated Patent Examination.

Posted in Practice Commentary by Jake Ward on February 2, 2011

Per this press release from the USPTO earlier today .

USPTO to Issue Proposal for “Track One” Accelerated Patent Examination in Flexible “Three Track” Patent Processing Program

Agency also announces plan to clear backlog of oldest unexamined applications by the end of FY 2011

Washington – The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) today announced new details on its “Three-Track” program designed to enable applicants to choose the speed with which their patent application is processed. On February 4, 2011, the USPTO will publish in the Federal Register a notice of proposed rulemaking on “Track One” of the program, which will give applicants the opportunity for prioritized examination of a patent within 12 months of its filing date for a proposed fee of $4,000.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke highlighted the “Three-Track” patent examination program, first published for public comment in June 2010, at the White House’s launch of the “Startup America” initiative earlier this week.

“The Patent and Trademark Office plays a key role in promoting innovation and entrepreneurship,” Locke said. “This new system will bring the most valuable patents, as determined by inventors, to market faster and will help shrink the backlog by catering to the business needs of America’s innovators.”

The forthcoming Federal Register notice will request comments from the public on a number of different proposed requirements for participation in Track One, including (a) the proposed fee of $4,000 for each application (to recover the full cost of resources necessary to prevent the delay of other, non-prioritized applications); (b) limits on the number of claims to four independent claims and 30 total claims; (c) application filing through the USPTO’s electronic filing system (EFS-Web); and other such requirements. The comment period will close 30 days after the notice is published.

“Since putting our ‘Three-Track’ proposal out for public comment last summer, we have received feedback from innovators across the country supporting these processing options,” said Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO David Kappos. ”Commenters have been particularly enthusiastic about the option to seek faster examination on their most important applications.”

During the program’s first year, the USPTO plans to limit the number of applications in the program to 10,000 to ensure that the USPTO can meet the 12-month goal.

For smaller entities, the USPTO is working to offer a 50 percent discount on any filing fee associated with Track One, as it does with many other standard processing fees. The patent reform legislation recently introduced in the U.S. Senate would enable the USPTO to set its own fees and thereby extend this discount to small entity applicants.

Agency begins effort to clear oldest unexamined patent cases

The USPTO also announced today a new effort to eliminate the “tail” of backlog applications that were more than 16 months old at the beginning of the fiscal year and had not yet received a first Office Action, known as “Clearing the Oldest Patent Applications” (or COPA). This initiative is a critical first step in reaching the agency’s strategic goal of providing first Office Actions on all new applications in an average of 10 months from their date of filing by 2014.

The goal for fiscal year 2011 is to have a first Office Action completed on nearly all of the 313,000 oldest backlog applications. Reaching this goal, however, is highly dependent on the passage of a fiscal year 2011 budget that would provide sufficient resources for hiring and examiner overtime.

“In the long run, COPA will result in lower overall patent pendency – particularly in light of applicants using the Track One option when it becomes available in the coming months,” Kappos said. “Together, these efforts will make a real difference in the speed at which applicants will be able to get a decision on their patent applications.”

They Invented What? (No. 194)

Posted in They Invented What? by Jake Ward on February 2, 2011

U.S. Pat. No. 7,107,621:  Optical illusion wear.

What is claimed is:

1. An article of wearing apparel comprising: material including only opaque qualities and a visible surface defined by spaced apart outer edges, said visible surface including a center area; and an applied optical illusion pattern permanently associated with said visible surface of said material, said applied optical illusion pattern formed by a plurality of first and second areas, said plurality of first areas being a first color and said plurality of second areas being a second color wherein said first color is darker than said second color, said applied optical illusion pattern including a plurality of rows and a plurality of columns, each row including one of said first areas adjacent one of said second areas and each column including one of said first areas adjacent one of said second areas and a portion of said plurality of first areas are located in said center area, and said applied optical illusion pattern extends from said center area adjacent to one of said outer edges.