By Gonz Blinko
Samhara and I started packing up the house boat more than a month after we would usually leave the Glades. We had some unfinished business in the area and managed to withstand the heat, humidity and the mosquitoes the size of Volkswagens. Boris had left after a couple days (I’m not sure we could have taken him much longer anyway) and was camping out with El Negro up in SouthBeach. All of us were preparing for the Outlaw Biker Race from Miami to Boston and BC was sponsoring our team.
“Hey Sam,” I called, “You gotta read this article in Diner Access Journal.”
“What’s it about?”
“A patent lawsuit, more your department than mine.”
“What’s it about?”
“Waffle House has filed suit against Denny’s over the ingredients in a newly designed and quite novel omelet recipe.”
“Huh?” asked Sam who I heard walking toward me. “A patent over an omelet recipe?”
“Well, it also says something about improved placemats but as I haven’t eaten in either joint in about four years, I can’t really comment on either invention.”
Sam started reading aloud, “Waffle House got a patent on a five egg banana omelet served on an oversized plate with a special placemat.”
And?” I asked.
“I remember that filing, I think the patent looks pretty solid except in cases where the user prefers their eggs runny,” she continued. “Here’s a link to Denny’s response written by Douglas Giraffe himself.”
“What’s it say?”
“Giraffe claims that the new Denny’s five egg banana omelet also contains Philadelphia Cream Cheese, jalapeno peppers and a secret sauce only previously known to exist in Indiana.”
“Neither sounds too appetizing,” I added.
“Douglas also asserts that his five egg omelet is served on a square plate with an oval placemat which means it is entirely a new invention.”
“I haven’t looked at patent law since the old LPF days but this one looks kind of sticky.”
“I think the only sticky part comes in if you order either omelet with the optional maple syrup,” answered Samhara.
“Has anyone else chimed in?” I asked.
“All of the usual folks in the diner blogosphere.”
“what are they saying?”
Sam paused for a moment to read a couple of other posts from members of the NFD (National Federation of Diners), ACD (American Counsel of Diners) and the official Diner’s Club blog.
“The response is mixed,” she said ponderously. “The types who know patent law pretty well seem to go with Waffle House, the more emotional ones go with Denny’s and, the political types are saying things like innovate, don’t litigate.”
“But this case actually seems to cover a pair of innovations,” I said, “the original five egg banana omelet on the over sized plate and the special placemat sounds pretty unique to me. I can’t think of any published prior art.”
“I’m not sure,” stated Sam, “Us law is based in first to invent but international patents go to the first to file. I’m certain that Waffle House was first to file and I can’t think of a diner anywhere that served their special combination of eggs, bananas on an oversized plate.”
“But what of all of the extras Denny’s added?” I asked.
“They might count for something, maybe they have enough novelty to be considered a different invention altogether.”
“What is Waffle House saying about all of this?”
“Their CEO asserts that they spend a lot of money on research and development and need to protect their costly inventions.”
“Typical,” I said.
“Omelet House made a statement claiming that they had the first five egg omelet but said that Waffle House pays them royalties on them and they admit they do not use bananas,” explained my African lawyer.
“What does BC say?”
“He’s been preparing for the race, I don’t think he’s paying attention to any of this.”
“Smart man,” I said, “enormous egg dishes with bananas fly in the face of sanity and BC has always been a bit on the edges of permanently crossing over into weirdsville.”
“Let’s get back to work and get our sweaty asses out of this jungle,” insisted Sam.
I had no way to argue so I continued our packing for our voyage north to the place where we store the house boat until next summer.