Anticipate This!™ | Patent and Trademark Law Blog

They Invented What? (No. 207)

Posted in They Invented What? by Jake Ward on August 3, 2011

U.S. Pat. No. 6,080,436: Bread refreshing method.

JW Note:  This patent was mentioned in the recent TAL report as an example of a patent that should never have been allowed.  What are the thoughts of our readership, after reviewing the claims?  Have not reviewed the prosecution history, but one wonders whether the resulting bread microstructure (shown in the below figure) may have distinguished the invention from prior art “toast”. 

One additional note – according to PAIR, the patent has since expired due to nonpayment of a maintenance fee.

What is claimed is:

1. A method of refreshing bread products, comprising:
a) placing a bread product in an oven having at least one heating element,
b) setting the temperature of the heating elements between 2500 F. and 4500 F., and
c) ceasing exposure of the bread product to the at least one heating element after a period of 3 sec. to 90 sec.

2. The method of claim 1 including the step of exposing the bread product to electromagnetic radiation in the wavelength range between 1.2 and 3.4 microns.

3. The method of claim 1 including the step of selecting said bread products from rolls, muffin, buns and bagels.

3 Responses

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  1. Dave Purdue said, on August 4, 2011 at 12:53 pm

    Sounds like the basis for another verse to my second favorite Heywood Banks song – – Number one in my book is still Big Butter Jesus

  2. les said, on August 4, 2011 at 1:24 pm

    According to this chart:

    Stainless Steel, of which my toaster is made, melts at 2550F. So, the it seems to me that the claimed process varies just a tad from ordinary toasting.

  3. wkgreen said, on August 11, 2011 at 2:37 pm

    @les, The temperature of 2500F to 4500F is for the heating element, not the ambient air temperature in the enclosed chamber. I don’t know what the standard heating element is in a typical toaster, but a standard tungsten halogen bulb, which is what this uses, has a maximum operating temperature above 2500C (or 4532F).

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