Issue 8 

Nov 2001

In this Issue

Welcome

Patent Strike ForceSM

Making a silk purse out of a sow's ear, sort of.

Interesting Patent

Preparing turkey ribs for your Thanksgiving feast.

IP Links

IP Glossary


Welcome

This is the eighth issue of Directions, a newsletter from TechRoadmap Inc. discussing intellectual property issues and ideas. We hope to stimulate you to examine and improve your own IP practices. This month's issue, in the holiday spirit, discusses one of those fun food patents . Feel free to share this newsletter (see copyright notice below) and to provide feedback by e-mail to: bruceahz@techroadmap.com

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Patent Strike ForceSM

Making a silk purse out of a sow's ear, sort of.

Ah, that old Thanksgiving favorite - Turkey Ribs! Sure 'nuf, there's nothing like sitting down to a big old mess of BBQ'ed turkey ribs. You say you don't know about turkey ribs. Well, US Patent 6,280,311 clearly describes a PROCESS FOR PREPARING TURKEY RIB CUTS. You can prepare them individually (a riblet?) or as a rack of turkey or, says inventor Ted Kuck, as a standing rib roast. Personally, for my Thanksgiving I'd go for the standing turkey rib roast.

As you can see from the patent itself (excerpts below), American ingenuity is alive and well. Turkey "rib cuts" are not ribs at all (hey, you knew there had to be a catch) but, instead, are the scapula (shoulder blade) bones. In a turkey the scapula are elongated bones that run along either side of the spine. Apparently, when a turkey is commercially butchered for parts (breasts, thighs, wings, etc.), the meat around the scapula is usually left on the carcass to be turned into pet food, because the remaining meat is too difficult to remove cost effectively. Moreover, even if it could be removed quickly, the small, scrap like pieces would not have much consumer appeal.

Mr. Kuck describes a butchering process in which the scapulae are removed with the surrounding meat intact. For reasons perhaps more apparent to him than to the rest of us, this short, poultry-meat-covered bone reminded him of a pork or beef rib, hence the description of this product as a turkey "rib cut". I wonder if the USDA will ever let a scapula cut show up in our supermarket meat case as a "turkey rib cut"; somehow I think not.

Mr. Kuck's imagination takes an even greater flight of fancy as he imagines gluing multiple "ribs" together to form a rack and, with the addition of a glued on lump of breast meat, a standing rib roast. I cannot imagine, as a consumer, wanting a factory-fabricated rack of turkey ribs!

As hard as it is to believe, there are some lessons to be learned from this patent.

  • You don't have to have a market to get a patent - whether or not consumers will ever buy turkey ribs, Mr. Kuck's butchering process met the USPTO's criteria for a patent; economic success is not one of those criteria.

  • An invention doesn't have to be a "thing" - This patent covers the processes for making turkey ribs, but not the ribs per se. Although process patents are harder to enforce, it probably would have been impossible to get a patent on a naturally occurring turkey bone covered with its naturally occurring surrounding meat.

  • Make a reasonable effort to cover alternatives - while the "doctrine of equivalents" may extend your patent protection beyond literal infringement, your interests are best served by pointing those equivalents out yourself. In this patent, Mr. Kuck covers both skin-on and skinless "ribs" and both the "full" cut and trimmed cut ribs.

This Thanksgiving you can be sure I'm going to flip my turkey carcass over to salvage at least one scapula to see if there is any resemblance to a baby back rib - I'm not holding my breath. Happy Thanksgiving.

Nothing in the preceding article should be construed as legal advice. TechRoadmap Inc serves as an interface between companies and their legal counsel.

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Interesting Patent
Preparing turkey ribs for your Thanksgiving feast.

Here are sections from US Patent 6,280,311. The entire patent may be viewed at US06280311.pdf

Abstract

The present invention is a process or method for cutting and boning a turkey to create a turkey rib cut which includes the scapula bone and its associated muscles (meat). The method involves separating the scapula bone and its associated muscles from the turkey carcass. The turkey rib cut may be produced with the cutaneous tissues (turkey skin) attached to the associated muscles. The resulting turkey rib cut contains a larger percentage of meat and is easier to produce. Alternatively, the cutaneous tissues (turkey skin) can be removed from the associated muscles to produce a skinless turkey rib cut. In another alternative embodiment of the present invention, the muscle (meat) associated with the scapula bone can been trimmed to create a turkey rib cut having less meat. In another alternative embodiment of the present invention, multiple turkey rib cuts are placed in a side-by-side orientation and bonded together using a meat bonding agent to create a linked rack of turkey rib cuts or a standing turkey rib roast.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to a process for preparing a meat product from an animal carcass. In particular, the present invention relates to a method for cutting and boning a turkey to produce turkey rib cuts.

In recent years, individuals have become increasingly health conscious. As links between eating red meat and various diseases (including heart disease and cancer) have been uncovered, turkey meat has gained popularity as a red meat substitute. Today, turkey burgers and a large selection turkey-based cold cuts are commercially available. As individuals become more health conscious, the demand for other turkey meat products will certainly increase.

Turkey carcasses are typically butchered into several main cuts or sections including breast, wing, thigh, leg and scapula meat sections. The scapula bone refers to either of a pair bones lying one in each dorsal lateral part of the thorax, being the principal bone of the corresponding half of the shoulder girdle, and articulating with the corresponding clavicle or coracoid. Typically, the turkey scapula bone and its associated muscles (meat) are not sold as a separate cut of turkey meat, but are sold as scrap meat with the remaining turkey carcass after the main cuts are removed. The remaining meat that adheres to the scapula bone is usually ground and extruded to be sold for non-human consumption as mechanically deboned meat (at a price considerably less than the main cuts).

Accordingly, there is a need for a method of using the scapula meat to increase the potential "per pound" profit of a whole turkey carcass, while also developing new types of turkey products to attract additional consumers. The present invention fulfills such needs by providing a method for cutting and boning a whole turkey carcass to create a turkey rib cut which includes the scapula bone and its associated muscles (meat). The turkey rib cut has sufficient perceived value to be marketed as a separate turkey product.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is a process or method for cutting and boning a turkey to create a turkey rib cut which includes the scapula bone and its associated muscles (meat). The method involves separating the scapula bone and its associated muscles from the turkey carcass. The turkey rib cut may be produced with the cutaneous tissues (turkey skin) attached to the associated muscles. The resulting turkey rib cut contains a larger percentage of meat and is easier to produce. Alternatively, the cutaneous tissues (turkey skin) can be removed from the associated muscles to produce a skinless turkey rib cut. In another alternative embodiment of the present invention, the muscle (meat) associated with the scapula bone can been trimmed to create a turkey rib cut having less meat. In another alternative embodiment of the present invention, multiple turkey rib cuts are placed in a side-by-side orientation and bonded together using a meat bonding agent to create a linked rack of turkey rib cuts or a standing turkey rib roast.

"Turkey ribs" would be a new turkey food product. The meat attached to the scapula bone, which is normally sold as mechanically deboned meat, will now be a separate turkey rib cut. The entire scapula bone and its adhering meat is sold as an individual cut to be marketed as a rib, which will increase the turkey carcass value when sold. The relationship of using a turkey scapula bone to a rib from a pork cut or cattle cut opens the door for a new turkey rib product and turkey rib cut.
Each turkey carcass 100 will produce two turkey rib cuts 121 of the present invention--one from the left side and one from the right side. The completed left and right side turkey rib cuts 121 of the present invention showing the entire scapula bones 104, muscles (meat) and cutaneous tissues (turkey skin) 106 are shown in FIG. 13. In a preferred embodiment of the present invention, the turkey rib cuts 121 include the cutaneous tissues (turkey skin) 106. This produces a very meaty rib.

In an alternative embodiment of the present invention, the cutaneous tissues (turkey skin) 106 can be removed, creating skinless turkey rib cuts. The skinless rib cut allows individuals concerned with the caloric intake and fat content of the turkey skin to enjoy the turkey rib without consuming the turkey skin. FIG. 14 shows a comparison between the preferred embodiment (skin-on ribs--left side of FIG. 14) and the alternative embodiment (skinless ribs--right side of FIG. 14). FIG. 15 shows both turkey rib cuts 121 as skinless.

In another alternative embodiment of the present invention, the muscle (meat) associated with the scapula bones 104 can be trimmed to create a less meaty turkey rib cut 121 as shown in FIG. 16. In this embodiment, one-half to two-thirds of the scapula meat is trimmed from the scapula bone 104 and sold as a standard scapula cut 122. Even if all the scapula meat is removed, enough meat remains attached to the scapula bone 104 to sell as a turkey rib cut. Traditionally, the meat that remains attached to the scapula bone 104 would remain with the turkey carcass 100 and be processed to become mechanically deboned meat (which is sold at a lower price than the turkey rib cut). Under the present invention, the meat attached to the scapula bone, which is normally sold as mechanically deboned meat, will now be a separate turkey rib cut. Thus, the turkey rib cut increases the salvage value of the turkey carcass 100 by creating a new, valuable cut of meat from what otherwise would be less valuable mechanically deboned meat.

In another alternative embodiment of the present invention, several turkey rib cuts may be bonded together to create a "rack" of ribs. As shown in FIG. 17A, individual turkey rib cuts 121 are placed side-by-side in preparation for being bonded together using meat binders (i.e., Fibrinigen and Activa are examples of cold meat binders) to create a "rack" of ribs. FIG. 17B shows the assembled "rack" of ribs 150. Any number of turkey rib cuts 121 can be bonded together to make the assembled "rack" of ribs 150 as large as necessary. The turkey rib cuts 121 that are bonded together to form the assembled "rack" of ribs 150 may be as lean as desired, creating the assembled "rack" of ribs 150 with a higher or lower percentage of meat to bone. The turkey rib cuts 121 may be cold-bonded together to create an uncooked, linked rack of ribs 150 that could be sold as a raw product and cooked by the consumer. In a further embodiment, pre-cooked turkey rib cuts 121 may be linked together using other meat binders or standard bonding agents (salts or natural proteins) to create a pre-cooked "rack" of ribs 150.

In another alternative embodiment of the present invention, several turkey rib cuts 121 may be bonded together to create a standing turkey rib roast. The standing rib roast is created using the same concept that is used to create the "rack" of ribs 150 described above. In addition, the scapula bone of the turkey rib cut is bonded to additional turkey breast meat to create the standing turkey rib roast.

The disclosed description and figures refer specifically to a method for preparing rib cuts from the scapula bone and adhering meat of a turkey. The inventive method for preparing rib cuts can be applied to any fowl of any species including, but not limited to, turkeys, chickens, geese, pheasants, ducks, ostriches, or any other animal.

Although the present invention has been described with reference to preferred embodiments, workers skilled in the art will recognize that changes may be made in form and detail without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.

 


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