Improving the taste of beer -- new patent application

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Improving the taste of beer -- new patent application

Postby billvelek » Wed Jun 06, 2007 1:58 pm

Just came across this and thought it would be of interest to the group. It is a patent application for the use of minerals and chemicals to improve the taste of beer -- not only when it is diluted, but also full strength beers.

http://www.freshpatents.com/Beer-additi ... escription
and here's the 'tinyurl' in case it breaks: http://tinyurl.com/24nuup

Cheers.

Bill Velek
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Postby brewer13210 » Thu Jun 07, 2007 9:41 am

The patent should be challenged. The mineral they're adding have been used in brewing for centuries. They've clearly done some research on different concentrations of these minerals in low alcohol beers and how it effects flavor, but nothing original enough to be worthy of a patent. At least let's hope not...I'd hate to see the day when adding calcium to the mash violated a patent.

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It's probably patentable as a formula

Postby billvelek » Thu Jun 07, 2007 11:08 am

I think the application is claiming a patent on what amounts to a formula because it states: "It has been found, according to this invention, that the addition of certain levels of a complex mixture of minerals ...". [Emphasis is mine]. I'm not a patent attorney, and so I don't know if the application needs to actually specify the formula (I would have thought that it would), or if there is another filing that takes care of that. But if the patent is not a formula, then I do agree with you that it shouldn't be patentable, and it probably won't be. Also, I've seen patents so broadly draw that they attempt to cover the kitchen sink, and that's probably what's happening with the 'ranges' of concentrations of elements that appear in the patent. Intellectual property law is a strange area to me.

Cheers.

Bill Velek
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prior art?

Postby slothrob » Fri Jun 08, 2007 9:34 am

You don't have to, and typically don't, patent a single formulation. This is very similar to a patent I wrote where I disclosed the formula I use but cover against near duplication. The reason being that there are, typically, effective ranges of chemical concentrations that will work for a particular application. If you don't do this, a competitor could simply add 50 ppm Calcium instead of the preferred 52 ppm and get virtually the same effectiveness.

So, what they did here was describe a "preferred" mineral addition for, say, a stout, but also give an "effective" range.

The other thing they seem to have done, which is common, is shoot higher than their desired target. A lot of this could be challenged as "prior art". I think the flavor contributions of Sodium and Chloride are well established, for example, but they are shooting for broad claims, in the hope they might hold up, while giving much more unique claims, such as adjusting pH of the final beer with CaOH instead of Lactic Acid, that have a better chance of holding up to a challange.

You might notice that they avoid any claim against the use of minerals to regulate the mash conditions and focus, instead, on the effect of minerals on flavor. The claim of using Calcium in the mash would surely fail and will remain in the public domain, so don't worry about that one.

They also split their patent into two applications, minerals to improve flavor and minerals to improve flavor in beer that is diluted to reduce alcohol or stretch volume. This is probably because the former is a weaker claim and more apt to fail a challange based on obviousness from existing art. The latter is a more novel application and could hold up (perhaps, I don't know anything about diluting beer.)

I bet this is really designed to head off the big boys, as they're the big beer dilutors.
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