Last month, while writing about the growing trend of chef's wanting to claim intellectual property rights over their meals, we joked in the headline that one day, perhaps, McDonald's would be sued by someone claiming to have invented the bacon cheeseburger. Perhaps we should have flipped that around. Plenty of folks thought of us and have been submitting this story that's been getting some attention supposedly about McDonald's trying to patent some sandwiches. Luckily, it's not as bad as it sounds. First of all, the patents in question are all applications, not granted patents, so they may never get anywhere. Second, it's not about patenting the sandwiches, but patenting machines to put together the sandwiches quickly and in a uniform manner (McDonald's specialty). I've found three different applications that seem to be what's being discussed here, and it's clearly about a tool, not the sandwich itself. Now, whether or not you believe a sandwich making machine should be patentable is an entirely separate question. However, the fear that sandwiches might be patented certainly isn't as ridiculous as it might sound. One of the more famous (and more ridiculous) patent lawsuits often used to demonstrate how screwed up our patent system has become is the case where Smucker's tried to stop a small grocery store from selling crustless peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, because they claimed the patent on such things.
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