How to stop the food-service companies from stealing your ideas

A new batch of US food companies have been found to be using patents that could make it harder for the government to protect consumers from food fraud. 

A report by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found that a handful of the companies had been using outdated patents to patent inventions, including the ability to automatically detect fraud, the ability for the food companies to create a custom food label and the ability of the food firms to sell food to people who don’t have a prescription. 

According to the FDA report, the Food Manufacturing Act, signed by President Bill Clinton in 1994, required the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) to identify, evaluate and update food manufacturing technology and patent applications to ensure they were in compliance with federal law. 

However, the FDA found that these patents could be used by companies like Food Basics to prevent food fraud by allowing them to patent technology and patents that allow them to “patent new and novel food processing processes”. 

The Food Basics patents, which cover food processing, require a patent application to include an invention, a method, an apparatus and/or method, the patent examiner found. 

“Food Basics patent applicants have a patent entitled ‘Food Processing Method and Method and Device For Food Processing of a Natural Product,’ that covers methods for using enzymes and/ or other enzymes as a natural food source, which can be used to extract a natural product from a foodstuffs or otherwise manipulate foodstuff into a food product,” the FDA said. 

The FDA report said the patents, commonly called ‘food process patents’, were granted to companies that have “substantially similar” products that could be “found in multiple food-processing processes” in a wide variety of industries. 

Food Basics has previously filed two food process patents in the US. 

In 2010, the company was granted a patent on a technique that could extract natural ingredients from a powdered milk powder and other ingredients. 

 In 2011, the same company was awarded a patent for a method to make a powder using natural enzymes that could then be used in foods. 

But the FDA did not find any of the patents used in Food Basics patent applications are related to the process of food production, such as a process that converts a liquid into a solid. 

There are also two patents on food processing that are in the Food Processing Act that were awarded by the FDA. 

One of those patents is for a process to convert liquid into solid that can be mixed into other foods.

 The other is a process for converting solid to liquid. 

What does this mean for you? 

As part of the Food Basics lawsuit, Food Basics is asking the court to dismiss the case and hold the company liable for patent infringement, which would mean Food Basics could face a $3.6bn (£2.4bn) fine from the FDA, according to Reuters. 

While Food Basics has filed two Food Basics food process patent applications, the other patents are in a different patent class. 

If the Food Basic food process is found to have been infringing, it would result in the company facing a $1.5bn fine from Feds, Reuters reported. 

Should you be affected? 

The issue is not new to the Food Network, with a slew of food processors and food suppliers having filed food processing patent applications in the past few years. 

Companies have filed dozens of patent applications with the Food Service Standards Board, which reviews patent applications. 

More recently, there has also been controversy around patent infringement involving a number of food suppliers. 

Last year, the UK government ordered the UK’s largest food retailer, Sainsbury’s, to pay more than £2bn to a patent holder who was found to infringe on an idea from Sainsburys. 

Although the patent is valid, the case did not reach the UK Supreme Court, as many food companies and food service companies have argued it is likely to be dismissed because the patent did not apply to the food. 

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