Asked in Patents (Intellectual Property)

Q: Hello


I was wondering if I wanted to begin using liquid nitrogen professionally in the kitchen, do I need to do something in particular regarding patents? IIf i want to put fruits for example in liquid nitrogen and serve them.

Thank you


2 Lawyer Answers
Walker Weitzel
Walker Weitzel

A: The answer depends on your level of risk aversion. The safest route will be to have an attorney render a Freedom to Operate Opinion. A lawyer would do a thorough patent search to determine whether your method or end product infringe on any patents. Another approach would be to begin using your technique, and to respond if a patent owner comes to you asserting infringement. In this case, you would either need to come to an agreement with the owner or assert that you are not infringing (which would be a legal fight). The second course of action has no up-front costs, but if an owner does assert you are infringing, there will be a cost. The amount of the cost could vary dramatically depending on how you choose to respond. So, it is possible to spend money upfront for relative assurance that you will not incur later costs, or you can proceed at no cost with the possibility of some indeterminate cost in the future.

Peter D. Mlynek
Peter D. Mlynek
  • Patents Lawyer
  • Moorestown, NJ

A: Hello, Laura –

As with every new endeavor, there are two questions with regards to patents that you need to concern yourself.

(1) Do I have the freedom to operate? That is, can I use liquid nitrogen to prepare food without worrying that someone going to try to sue me for patent infringement?

(2) Can I protect my invention? That is, can I get a patent on using liquid nitrogen in preparing food, so that I can prevent others from copying my food preparation style?

As you likely know, using liquid nitrogen in food preparation has been around for some time. Many chefs seem to be utilizing it. There are lots of neat techniques out there in preparing dishes or improving dishes, which can be achieved only by the use of liquid nitrogen.

If you read about some cryogenic cooking technique in Modernist Cuisine, Chef Magazine, Culinary Trends, Dessert Professional, or some other trade publication or website that lots of other chefs seem to be using, I don’t think that there is anything about patents that you or other chefs need to be worried about.

Dipping fruits into liquid nitrogen and serving it to customers? That seems like a very basic idea that would likely not have anything to do with patents.

However, if there is some sort of an advanced liquid nitrogen technique that no one seems to be using, or if you are a large manufacturer of ice cream using liquid nitrogen, then you should seek help from a patent lawyer.


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