Puzzling Patents (and Applications), including an “Alcoholic Yogurt Refreshment”?

Every so often, a patent application makes us wonder “but why?”.  We recently came across this 2014 decision of the Commissioner of Patents regarding Canadian Patent Application No. 2,371,743, entitled “Alcoholic Yogurt Refreshment”. 

But why, we asked, would a person want to spike their yogurt?  The answer: “to increase spill resistance, and hence portability [of the alcohol]” (paragraph 19).  The number of people the applicant thought would find this refreshment appealing is not mentioned, nor was any consumer testing conducted.

Sadly for the inventors, though perhaps to the relief of some drinkers, this application was refused.  But why?  According to the Examiner, the alleged invention was anticipated by a “Grand Marnier™ Fruit Salad”.  Connoisseurs of boozy yogurt can find the fruit salad recipe at paragraph 59 of the application.

Further, the alleged invention was determined to be obvious in light of the “common general knowledge”.  In particular, the Patent Appeal Board helpfully noted that the “common general knowledge of alcoholic foodstuffs includes knowledge of a particular combination of alcoholic foodstuffs and JELL-O®, as for example JELL-O® shots”.  Sounds like the Patent Appeal Board throws quite the parties!

If you’re looking for assistance with patenting consumer products, or want to get a sense of the patent landscape for a potential invention, please contact our experts at Brion Raffoul!