With tomorrow being Thanksgiving, the time of the year where we dedicate time for food, family, and friends as we look back on all that we have accomplished (and therefore should be thankful for), now is as good of a time as any to do a mini trip through time to reflect on the history of Thanksgiving and how it connects to intellectual property.
Turkey, the food most commonly associated with Thanksgiving, actually has numerous patents and trademarks associated with it. Alan B. Rogers invented a process of preparing a frozen stuffed fowl (U.S. Patent No. 2,928,748). Rodney Barbour patented a poultry frying apparatus (U.S. Patent No. 5,758,569) on June 2, 1998 that was designed specifically for turkeys, and contains a central rod to move the turkey up and down while allowing the user to avoid burns from any hot oils used.
The cornucopia, another symbol typically associated with Thanksgiving in the U.S., was used in a patent of a candle-cornucopia hybrid (U.S Patent No. D184,815).
In 1909, Joseph Mathy (U.S. Patent No. 925,781) patented one of the first roasting ovens, and it was designed in such a way so that the turkey would be cooked perfectly without the need to baste it (basting is when you pour juices or melted fat over the meat while it’s cooking; this is done so that the meat remains moist). Speaking of basting, Louis Henry and Bruce Ancona invented a turkey baster that actually has a turkey as the basting bulb, which adds an appropriately thematic design to the device’s functionality (U.S. Patent No. D390,070).
There’s a Thanksgiving-related patent for a safety shutoff timer. It was invented by John D. McLemore and Don McLemore, and was granted on June 5, 2007, and looks like a turkey holding a kitchen timer (U.S. Patent No. 7,227,107 B2).
It is a tradition for Macy’s, the National American department store chain, to have a Thanksgiving day parade through New York City. Well most of the parade balloons fall under a 2008 patent invented by James Randall (U.S. Patent No. 2008/0090487 A1) for an inflatable plastic blimp. Macy’s has also trademarked the phrase “Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade” on December 1, 1998 (U.S. Reg. No. 2,206,890).
There are plenty of trademarks for Thanksgiving-related foods as well. Stove Top, the stuffing mix brand owned by Kraft Foods, registered “Stovetop” as a trademark on December 26, 1972 (U.S. Reg. No. 0949459). Butterball, whose turkeys you definitely can’t miss while shopping for your own Thanksgiving turkey, registered their “Butterball” mark on April 21, 1981 (U.S. Reg. No. 1151836).
There are even registered Thanksgiving IP’s relating to your pets. Mondaq reported that Merrick Pet Care, a pet food brand, trademarked its “Thanksgiving Day Dinner” dog food (U.S. Reg. No. 3,350,890) on December 11, 2007.
As we here at EIP reflect on how far Thanksgiving-related technologies and IP have come, we hope that you spend some time this Thanksgiving, reflecting on whatever personal advancements you have made in your life.
“Let us remember that, as much has been given us, much will be expected from us, and that true homage comes from the heart as well as from the lips, and shows itself in deeds.”
– Theodore Roosevelt