Food science, environmental chemistry
Modern food production uses a diverse range of technologies and scientific disciplines. Each step of a process provides opportunities for businesses to obtain patent protection for their innovations. From traditionally selected or genetically modified plants, to fertilizers used on the land, to the different phases of processing raw materials into food products, to the packaging used to deliver products to the consumer in perfect condition, there is ample scope for innovations, and patents can maximise their commercial value. Many recent innovations in this area involve providing the consumer with convenient food and beverage products in improved forms and adapting products for emerging markets. Increasing energy efficiency and reducing the environmental impact of each phase of production are drivers of innovation in this area.
At Appleyard Lees we have recently helped our clients protect low environmental impact fertilizers produced by a carbon capture process, efficient methods of producing confectionery products with minimal raw material wastage, heat-resistant chocolate suitable for hot climates, flavour enhancers which allow the reduction of unhealthy ingredients, beverages which stay fizzy for longer, and biodegradable packaging for many different types of food product.
Recent court cases have illustrated the value and importance of patent protection in this field. The dispute between Nestlé and Dualit over Nestlé’s “Nespresso” coffee capsules shows the value that patent protection can add, with Nestlé fighting to maintain their highly profitable exclusivity on the supply of the coffee capsules, and Dualit wanting to establish a supply line of alternative capsules.