Patenting Product Manufacture and Delivery

IP and its protection are critical to the success of innovation and organic growth in all types of products and services. This also includes the manufacture and delivery of the product. If you have kids, or grandkids, or just act like a kid sometimes, you probably have visited an amusement park in recent years. As you walked around, you prob­ably noticed and maybe even tried Dippin’ Dots, “The Ice Cream of the Future.” Dippin’ Dots are tiny pellets of ice cream that are served in a dish. They are ultra-cold but melt on your tongue and, amazing­ly, don’t give you that “head freeze” feeling. If you have not tried them, you should; it is a great experience. Because of the individual­ly colored and flavored pellets, the banana split has strawberry and chocolate dots mixed in with the yellow banana ice cream, giving it the flavor and look of a banana split. The cookies ‘n cream is espe­cially tasty, with ultra-frozen pieces of chocolate cookies mixed in.

The magic of Dippin’ Dots is in its manufacture and delivery, and both are patented. Today more than a dozen patents, including a design patent, protect the IP surrounding that magic. (Also included is a utility and the design patent for a new innovation, “popcorn ice cream”—ice cream that looks like popcorn.) The patents tell us how Dippin’ Dots are made. The inventor, Curt Jones, is an expert in cryo­genics, the science of producing and using very low temperatures, recently used for the freezing of organs and flesh for medical pur­poses. Jones took advantage of his knowledge to apply the technique to making ice cream. The cream mixture is dripped in a special way through a very cold (below -100 degrees C) chamber. The cream is flash-frozen into the pellets. The company maintains the form of the pellets by keeping them stored at -40 degrees C. Most freezers are kept at -18 degrees C (0 F), so the storage and delivery system need­ed to be developed as well. The consistent identity has established brand equity recognized throughout the United States and soon around the world.

Every product requires services to support it, such as the manu­facturing and delivery of Dippin’ Dots. Every service requires a set of products to support it. Starbucks has several patents covering its roast­ing process and support products, such as tumbler cups and lids, and quite a few design patents that cover a variety of products, such as chewing gum tins and environmental features such as light fixtures and sconces, all working to define and maintain its brand identity.