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Smucker loses bid to patent PB&J process

Associated Press
Published April 9, 2005


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-sized peanut butter and jelly sandwiches called Uncrustables.

Smucker's Uncrustables are enclosed without a crust using a crimping method the 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 those used for making ravioli or a pie crust.

Smucker owns a general patent, which it bought from Len Kretchman and David Geske, two Fargo, N.D., men who came up with the idea in 1995 and had been making the sandwiches for schoolchildren.

The cases before the appeals court involved two more patents 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 Trademark 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.

A spokeswoman from Smucker couldn't immediately be reached for comment Friday. In a statement released earlier, the company said it had bought "a unique idea for making an everyday item more convenient" and made a significant investment in a "unique manufacturing process" for making the product.

[Last modified April 9, 2005, 07:10:29]


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