US Supreme Court to hear oral arguments next week

On 31 March 2014, the US Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the case of Alice Corporation Pty. Ltd. v. CLS Bank International. The case, referred to by some as Alice in Patentland, is to decide (hopefully once and for all, but we shall see …) the issue of whether claims in patents to computer-implemented inventions are eligible for patent protection under US law. As part of their ruling, the Supreme Court is being asked to decide whether claims to systems and machines, processes, and items of manufacture involving computer-implemented inventions are protectable by patents. We will keep you posted …

Will the Coca-Cola secret recipe stay secret for much longer?

For some, one of the allures of the Coca-Cola® drink is that the recipe for the beverage is secret. Recently, Coca-cola has bought a 10% stake in Green Mountain Coffee Roasters. Some years ago, Green Mountain/Keurig developed and sold a single-serve K-cup brewing technology, which like the Nespresso system uses pods to allow customers to prepare single coffee servings without having to make an entire pot. The technology was patented, but the patent expired late in 2012.

However, now with the help of Coca-Cola, Green Mountain is now working on developing and launching the Coca-Cola soft drink portfolio for use in a new cold beverage systems, which should be on sale in early 2015. So how long will the recipe stay secret? Already a small raft of patent applications have been filed on the subject of making carbonated drinks. While it might at first seem like home-brewed Coca-Cola drinks spell the end of the recipe being kept secret, it’s really no different to buying a bottle of the drink and taking it home. 

However, Green Mountain’s strong patent position may have been one of the contributing factor’s to Coca-Cola’s investment in the company and, no doubt, the “content” provided by Coca-Cola will contribute to the success of the technology. The one-shot technology, like with coffee, adds a certain caché to the experience, which is no doubt more in keeping with how Coca-Cola would like their product to be perceived.

Some interesting facts about Coca-Cola’s early days …

  • The drink was created in 1886 by John Pemberton, an Atlanta pharmacist.
  • The drink was named “Coca-Cola” by Mr Pemberton’s bookkeeper.
  • Atlanta businessman Asa Griggs Candler secured rights to the business between 1888 and 1889.
  • The recipe once used coca leaf, but now uses a cocaine-free coca leaf extract prepared at a Stepan Company plant.
  • The Stepan Company plant is the only manufacturing plant authorised by the US Federal Government to import and process the coca plant.

More information about the company can be found on Coca-Cola’s website.

According to Interbrand, he Coca-Cola brand is the world’s third most valuable brand after Apple® and Google®, valued at $79.2 billion.

Strikes loom at the EPO …

There seems to be some unrest at the European Patent Office, where the Staff Union of the European Patent Office (SUEPO) balloted staff for strike action. The strike ballot involved 4119 out of the 6803 eligible employees.  Around 90% of the votes cast were in favour of strike action. 

The SUEPO website contains a letter setting out many of its positions.

Strike days have been set for 21, 24 and 25 March, and 14 to 17 April.