Michael_Teahan Senior Member Joined: 15 Jan 2004 Posts: 135 Location: Los Angeles Expertise: Professional
Vac Pot: Vintage for collecting only Roaster: None
Posted Thu Feb 12, 2004, 3:16pm Subject: Re: Is 6 months a realistic stale date for valve bag technology?
I never, ever meant to imply that patents were not worth applying for; just that sometimes they don't pencil out from an industrial standpoint. The industry gossip I have stems from working with Andre and Brasilia on the development and refinement of Brasilia's implementation of his patent. They were European Patents, not US, and had a financial stake in the thermoplan project early on stemming from his Sistar machines. THe terminal connections themselves (same for Brasilia and Thermoplan) are off the shelf items, so it is the implentation of them within the modular design that was the core of the patent as I understand.
Please undersand that Andre and I did not have detailed discussion of the terms of his patents, only some of his frustrations. He sold his interest in the thermoplan project long before he began work with Brasilia. It was the ability to reomove modules sliding on rails without the use of tools that was the core element as I understand. Thermoplan had the right to build the machine according to this design resulting from the financial arrangement they had with Andre, rights that survived his tenure there. THose rights may not have allowed distribution outside of Europe as it was a key element of his being taken on by Brasilia. Some arrangement, the details of which I am not privy to, prevented Starbux from retailing the Thermoplan machine and prohibited the Orbita from taking hold in the US--directly spawning the creation of their new super-auto with the same guts but different connectors. Simply requiring an allen wrench to loosen the module might be enough to work around the patent, I am not sure.
Whatever was done to work out the details was done on Euro turf, and probably wouldn't show up here in patent documents. I am sure that the thermoplan stuff was derivative of the sistar product--why else would Andre have worked with them. I think all of the wrangling aged him pre-maturely.
Most of my research online with patents were with regard to frother systems. European patents, while not necessarily transferred to US (grace periods notwithstanding, etc.) can still be effective without the transfer if the manufacturer is based in Europe. Some regulations are forced on manufacturers regardless the destination.
La Marzocco has a patent for a pre-infusion system for their saturated group, I think in response to Starbux being interested, but they never built it as far as I know. Patents are only as valuable as the marketability of the product. A friend of mine hold some beverage system patents, but if a big player stomped on him with a marginally defensable design, he could never muster the dollars necessary to defend it.
A wood fired oven manufacturer in Texas sued another company in Washingtion over a patent he held for an integral burner for gas assist that was itself a copy of an Italian design he saw touring the factory two years earlier. We, in fact, sold such an oven in Las Vegas two years prior to the patent application. It should have nullified the patent protection; we provided sales receipts, brochures and the like from the manufacturer and even certified that the oven design --not patented in Europe pre-dated the patent. The company in Washington is pushing $200,000 in legal bills and it is still on-going.
The bottom line is that if people want to screw up your life, theyt will do it. Contracts, patents, agreements, legal gymnastics--without deep pockets you don't have dick. It isn't right and it sux, but from what I have seen on the inventor manufacturer side seems to be the case. That is why Brasilia sees as much benefit from being first to market and exploit an idea rather than rely on patents for protection--unless, I suppose, it was particularly good.
If THEY had invented the SPIDEM frother, they might be whistling a different tune.
Its nearly all inside stuff, light on the gossip. There are things I can't even talk about . . . . . .[;=}
I had just received an order of beans, so I took an unopened valve bag from the roaster and put it inside one of the B&D plastic bags and vacuum sealed it. Double bagging, as it were. My rationale was the beans should be surrounded mostly by CO2 in the valve bag, and I'll remove most of the air outside the bag. It created the expected tight brick. I then froze it.
Yesterday I opened it up, and the resulting coffee is as fresh and rich as I've ever tasted. I order from this roaster frequently and so am very familiar with the taste of their 2-3 day old beans. I cannot detect any degradation. It's only been 2 weeks but at this point the results show absolutely no signs of the so-called "fresh but lifeless" quality that vacuum storage has been accused of inducing. Nor is there any discernible affect of freezing, whatsoever.
I have kept previous orders of beans from this roaster either on the shelf or in the freezer just in the valve bags for several weeks at a time, with generally a quite noticeable decline in taste.
I now have some beans stored just in a B&D plastic vacuum bag alone, and others in the hard plastic vacuum jars, both without the valve bags. We'll see if having the beans more directly exposed to the vacuum level air is more detrimental, but at least at two weeks in a standard home freezer the double bag vacuum tehnique gets a very high rating.
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