Thursday, March 03, 2016

The European cookie paste wars: blog post kills patent

One of the biggest selling products at Trader Joe's is speculoos cookie butter. There is an interesting patent story behind the general "cookie butter" product, involving a Belgian patent and an invalidation thereof based upon a blog post.

The story got some press after a competition on the reality television show: De Bedenkers, which means “The Inventors” in Dutch. Two contestant groups had a version of cookie butter. Curiously, the group that lost the competition (Danny De Maeyer and Dirk De Smet ) had filed a patent application. The group that fared better on the competition made a deal with Lotus Bakeries for production of cookie butter. The patent holders sued. Lotus bought the patent, and in turn sued others. The others sought to invalidate the patent.

Defendants, including Biscuiterie Willems, relied on a post on the blog OmaWapsie run by “Grandma Wapsie,” (aka Rita) to invalidate the patent.

And as to the impact of patent litigation on changing the way we live (innovation): by the time Lotus brought the English-branded “Biscoff spread” to U.S. markets in 2012, Trader Joe’s cookie butter (with no patent) was selling like crazy.


A rough translation of a Dutch article reads:

In the Belgian patent register we see that Lotus Bakeries holder is or was of four Belgian patent applications, one of which is granted. It concerns the direct Belgian patent with as number 1016009. This patent was first submitted by Daniel de Mayer and Dirk De Smet on 10 May 2004 and shall be granted automatically on 10 January 2006. The proposed invention was a speculaas pasta from ground speculaas and a fat.

I remember from my boarding school period that we sometimes speculaas pasta obtained : many of us smeared first butter (fat) in a sandwich and then to let the speculaas weaken in our hot chocolate; subsequently we smeared this half-fused speculaas on our sandwich; the pellets speculaas lodged themselves in the butter and everything was tasty eaten. Delicious!!!!!!! The idea of a pasta made from minced speculaas and fat, could therefore in themselves are not new.

For this request in the name of de Mayer and De Smet was indeed confirmed this in the novelty research that has been carried out on 30 January 2005. It introduced a speculaas cake recipe of the grandmother Waspie stated that the new and inventive nature of the speculaas pasta out from... The Belgian court (in first instance) comes almost exactly 6 years later to the same conclusion.

The speculoospasta is for Lotus Bakeries an unseen success. Lotus Bakeries learned its people the speculoospasta food. There is no doubt that it is a very good quality product, with a suitable marketing plan, put on the market. The patent has certainly helped me, even though it is now in the first instance to be void. There were probably a number of technical aspects of the pasta also really be patentable but in a narrowed composition:

link to Dutch article:

The priceonomics post brings up the Cap’n Crunch sandwich made by Ally Sheedy’s character in The Breakfast Club as analogous art.

**Of relevance to the "cookie paste patent wars" is a 2015 post on IPBiz
Can one patent a recipe?


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