Saturday, December 02, 2006

The McPatent

The fast-food giant McDonalds has filed patent applications in Europe and the US that specify "the method and apparatus of making a sandwich". The apparatus boasts features that include “simultaneous toasting of a bread component” and inserting condiments into the sandwich with a “sandwich delivery tool.” The filling is placed in the ‘bread component’. For those of you who may be unfamiliar with the phenomenon of the sandwich, the patent application kindly explains that “Often the sandwich filling is the source of the name of the sandwich; for example, ham sandwich.”

The apparatus is designed to ensure the speedy production of sandwiches, in addition to uniformity of appearance. A diagram of the apparatus is available at:

But before you cast your lunch aside for fear of a nasty encounter with a McDonalds patent attorney, the traditional, manual method of sandwich assembly is unlikely to be affected. Lawrence Smith-Higgins of the UK Patent Office said: "McDonald's or anyone else can't get retrospective exclusive rights to making a sandwich. They might have a novel device but it could be quite easy for someone to make a sandwich in a similar way without infringing their claims." McDonald's would not comment.