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The next patent battleground: your dinner table

When you think of intellectual property the first things that come to mind are likely cutting edge technology firms: Intel, Apple, Google, Oracle. It’s doubtful you’d suspect the cut of meat you’re eating at dinner was subject to patent. The people over at Oklahoma State University (OSU) didn’t let that stop them from patenting a process involving a new cut of steak.

Jacob Nelson, a “value-added meat-processing specialist,” (the best job title I’ve ever come across) at OSU’s Robert M. Kerr Food & Agricultural Products Center, deserves credit for creating what has now been dubbed the “Vegas Strip Steak.” The new cut of beef is supposed to be very similar to the New York Strip in both flavor and tenderness and has “little connective tissue or visible fat.”

Given how long humans have been eating cows it comes as a shock to many that a new cut could be found. According to Nelson, the Vegas Strip steak will likely be the last cut found on a cow and will be one of the first to receive its own patent. The patent is currently pending, and, as such, the university is keeping quiet about the exact location of the meat, only saying that it comes from a section of a beef carcass that previously ended up as hamburger.

Nelson says OSU’s goal s to attract attention for the steak and drum up interest from restaurant chains. The school intends to partner with major meat packing plants and will charge a licensing fee to the plant in exchange for their services.

Some may be perplexed about how a person could patent meat and the matter deserves some clarification. The meat isn’t actually the subject of the patent as the university explained. “The patent actually claims the kind of knife strokes that you make in order to create this cut of meat.”

This is referred to as a patent on a process and isn’t actually new. Many existing software and business methodss also patent processes. The novelty is that this process involves cutting up a cow. In the future what process might others decide to patent? Hairdressing? Make-up application? Oil changes? Only time will tell.

Source:Google, Vegas Strip Steak, Microsoft: Intellectual Property,” by Victoria Slind-Flor, published at Businessweek.com.

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