Rice Cake Patent Dispute
Zen International Patents and Trademark
Speaking of Japanese traditional foods, a rice cake (Japanese “mochi”) is cited. Although a rice cake does not seeｍ to relate to patents, it was involved in serious patent disputes in the past.
That’s a case of conflict between Echigo Seika, Co.,Ltd. and Sato Foods, Co.,Ltd. over cut rice cakes with slits, which are packaged one by one in order to keep a fresh state.
Echigo Seika acquired a patent related to the slits provided in side surfaces of a cut rice cake. By providing slits, when baked, a rice cake shape remains good.
(Please refer to the figure related to Echigo Seika patent. )
On the other hand, Sato Foods also sold cut rice cakes with slits with sales copy of “Crisp and Slit”. With respect to Sato Foods, slits are provided in side surfaces as well as in the upper and lower surfaces of the cut rice cake.
Echigo Seika filed a lawsuit against Sato Foods for patent infringement. The trial lasted for a long time, but eventually, Echigo Seika’s claim was accepted and awarded damages of more than 800 million yen.
In general, patents related to product invention are thought to be more effective to exercise than patents related to methods invention in Japan.