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"Patent Pending"?
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josephgrossberg



Joined: 29 Oct 2005
Posts: 3

PostPosted: Sat Oct 29, 2005 11:55 pm    Post subject: "Patent Pending"? Reply with quote

Not long ago, I saw a copyright/disclaimer that there was a patent pending on your tabular recipe layout. Is that still the case?

If so, are you open to discussing it?

If not, what changed your mind?

Thanks,
Joe
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Michael Chu



Joined: 10 May 2005
Posts: 1635
Location: Austin, TX (USA)

PostPosted: Wed Nov 02, 2005 6:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The tabular recipe notation is still patent pending.
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yopyopyop
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 02, 2005 9:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

That type of charts and tables are taught to apprentices in all cookery (or pastry, bakery, etc) schools in France, and can be found in quite a few recipe books. In some cases recipes look more like organic chemistry formulas!
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josephgrossberg



Joined: 29 Oct 2005
Posts: 3

PostPosted: Sat Nov 05, 2005 10:05 pm    Post subject: so then ... Reply with quote

Why patent it?
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eltonyo



Joined: 02 Nov 2005
Posts: 88
Location: WA

PostPosted: Sun Nov 06, 2005 7:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Personally, I find Michael Chu's recipe syntax to be very elegant.

And lets be perfectly honest.... this web site rocks!

(Mr. Chu deserves his own TV show!)

Having said that, I am not sure trying to patent the use of a "format", which uses everyday HTML, is really a patentable thing... or is it?

And being an overly "tightly strung" engineer myself, (my avatar speaks for myself) ....well actually my mom thinks I am a very sweet guy, my only problem with Mr. Chu's elegant diagram technique to communicate a recipe, is that, at least for english (and european) cultures, the symbolic language depicted in the Table format is not very efficient (though a huge improvement over most recipe books).

...sigh.... ok, ok, ok.... let me 'splain with some examples cuz my grammer ain't exactly efficient! Huh?

The human mind is a fickle, albeit amazing thing.... (and don't even get me started on the mind of a woman!). When we read words composed of letters (not symbols), our mind ignores most of the characters, and focuses on a "beginning", and an "end" of a word (i.e. our mind wants to "get to the point".. if you know what I mean). In the english (european) world, our mind is taught to comprehend, read, and focus, from left to right, and then from top to bottom. As you read these words, your mind is comforted, in that it reads from left to right, and scrolls down the page until completion. A comfortable mind, is a happy mind....*cough* Wink

For example, if I purposely start mis-spelling words, but keep the first and last letters correct, your fickle-complex mind will read the words perfectly. Here's an example:

The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid, aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe.
Amzanig huh? yaeh and I awlyas tghuhot slpeling was ipmorantt!


Cool huh? (And yes... this is how most engineers spell!)

My point is that the mind recognizes, and categorizes the "widths" of words, and then tries to distinguish between them using only 2 letters (the first letter, and last letter). The human mind (at least in the western world), therefore, is comfortable with several things when it tries to comprehend:

1) It likes consistency in width for its language.
2) It likes to read from left to right, firstly.
3) It likes to read from top to bottom, secondly.
4) Once it reads downwards, it does not like to go back upwards, in the same paragraph, or page.
5) It likes to read from left to right, and from top to bottom, consistently, with a predictable width.

Now lets be clear here.... the mind can do anything it is trained to do. But given our primary conception of the world, and how it reads and analyses, it likes to scan from left to right, and top to bottom.

sigh.... sorry to babble so much, but some recipe examples are necessary to show what I mean. I will show a recipe (the same recipe) for two different formats, to point out what I am talking about above.

Whilst I do admire the elegance of Michaels Chu's format, I think the 2-column (fixed width) format I have adopted, wherein each ingredient has a purpose that is defined to its immediate right, is somewhat more efficient, and comforting to the western mind, given the above facts.

Okay here we go.... lets first show a yummy Mexican recipe using Mr. Chu's very cool and elegant format:



While I like this format, here's the problem, given our fickle western trained minds. Mr. Chu's format is read from the left to the right (that's good), and from the top to bottom (but only sorta). Actually, it reads from the top and then down a little bit, then over to the right, then back down a little more, and then up again and to the right, and then down a little more, then up again.... adinfinitum adnauseum It's almost read like an expanding (or divergent) sine wave... which as we all know, can be a problem in control systems (but that's another story).

Now i am going to present a second recipe format method, but I am going to use the same exact recipe for ease of comparison:



Here's the same recipe, but with a number of advantages, or at least in my humble silly mind.

1) The recipe ingredients all line up on the left, for an easy grocery list (like the previous format).... and this is good.

2) The recipe length is defined by the length of the recipe list (like the previous format).... and this is good.

3) The recipe width is "always" 2 columns, and no more, no less. The mind likes this consistency in width, as does recording devices such as data bases, etc. Therefore, the width and length is allows consistent. In the former diagram method, the width can ramble onward to the right for a long time, depending on the recipe, and this causes the eyes to get further away from the ingredients which they need (and feel comfortable) to focus upon.

4) The mind likes 2 simple columns, in the same way it likes to read only the first and last letter of a word. The "stuff" in the middle adds noise and confusion to the thought process. The mind likes "2" parameters in many things... in mathmatics, the mind like to focus on two variables, one that is indepentant (like time), and one other that is dependent.

5) The ingredients are grouped together as they are added. Note how some ingredients have a separate line between them.... this "extra" line denotes a "combine" function without saying so.

6) The recipe, most importantly, always reads from left to right, and then down one discrete quanta, and it never has to move up again, or to the right, any farther.

So anyhoo... there's my 2 cents, (with an overly analytical piece of cheese!)

I do really like the elegance of Michael Chu's diagrams, but I think I like the simpler, and more consistent layout of the two column syntax, which is quite different from any recipe books I have seen, which usually seperate the ingredients from the instructions, and the eyes are once again forced to move up and down again, as well as left and right.

sigh.

Anybody want some fries with that? Smile

p.s. On retro-spect, i did make a boo-boo in the first diagram, and I meant to saute the tomatillo's for 5 minutes after cooking the peppers for 5 minutes, and not cooking the cumin an additional 5 minutes, but its not my fault that I drew the horizontal line in the wrong place.... it's "Betty's" fault! Unsure (Don't ask)

sigh.... now I realize the 2-column method was easier to write too. Wink

oh bother.... where's my slide rule!
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eltonyo



Joined: 02 Nov 2005
Posts: 88
Location: WA

PostPosted: Sun Jan 08, 2006 1:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

so what ever happened to the patent idea?

in retrospect, i still think the 2-column format above is more efficient, but Chu's format lends well to an artistic collage idea that i was thinking of that would look cool. in other words, use pictures of the food, to fill in the sub-set diagrams of the flow chart, so you get a cool collage of ingredients that overlap and combine from left to right, to form the final recipe. no words, just pictures, with the ingredient list to the far left.... get it? Wink

hell man.... a good chili recipe could be framed, and sold for big bucks as art!

hey... can i patent my collage idea?
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grantmasterflash



Joined: 19 Feb 2006
Posts: 10

PostPosted: Sun Feb 19, 2006 8:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Data formats should never be patented. We're going through this huge change in software where people think they should be able to patent routines. That's like patenting the directions to the store. If anyone drives the same way they have to pay you. It doesn't make sense and if successful it will destroy everything.

Grant
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toholio
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 20, 2006 1:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

grantmasterflash wrote:
Data formats should never be patented.


Agreed. If the patent is granted then I'll honestly stop visiting and suggesting to people that they visit. One more stupid data format patent isn't what the world needs.
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Jörg



Joined: 31 Dec 2005
Posts: 51

PostPosted: Mon Mar 20, 2006 2:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Maybe you should ask why he's wanting to patent it, rather than assuming the worst.

If I recall correctly, he was planning to patent so that no one else could do the same thing and then come along to tell him that he couldn't use it anymore. (My memory is a bit fuzzy, though.)
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toholio
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 21, 2006 3:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Jörg wrote:
If I recall correctly, he was planning to patent so that no one else could do the same thing and then come along to tell him that he couldn't use it anymore. (My memory is a bit fuzzy, though.)


That might be the reason but it doesn't make much sense. Assuming he could show prior art he'd be in the clear anyway.
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 21, 2006 3:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Jörg wrote:
If I recall correctly, he was planning to patent so that no one else could do the same thing and then come along to tell him that he couldn't use it anymore. (My memory is a bit fuzzy, though.)


Sorry to double post but as a guest I can't edit what I last wrote.

I guess we're both just speculating so a direct question for Michael Chu: Do you intend to dedicate the patent if it is granted?
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Michael Chu



Joined: 10 May 2005
Posts: 1635
Location: Austin, TX (USA)

PostPosted: Tue Mar 21, 2006 5:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

So, the reason why I felt I could apply for a patent on the tabular recipe notation is because it seemed to be a novel way to represent recipes in a compact and easy to comprehend (to some) way that had not previously been done in any widespread fashion. The reason why I actually filed for a patent was to protect my ability to earn money off of it. From the day that I started Cooking For Engineers, I had one year to file for a patent (according to U.S. law). If I did not, then in the future I would not have the option to earn money through the tabular recipe notation (by charging licensing fees to food corporations, etc.). So, I went through the process and expense to see if I could get a patent. If the patent is granted in the future, and if I decide to use the patent to make some money, I have decided that I would provide free licensing to most non-profit organizations.

Why not give it away? Because I'd love to be able to write Cooking For Engineers full time, but I can't because I need to generate enough money to live. If there's something that I can do (without hurting others or making animated pop-ups invade your monitor) to increase revenue from Cooking For Engineers and I didn't try it, then I feel I wouldn't be responsible to me or my family.

Now a question back to my readers: Do you feel that this is a selfish action?

P.S. I do understand and (at some level) agree with the previous comments. But now my idealism and desire to contribute to the free computing world community is tempered by my wish to not have to worry everyday about how we'll make ends meet and how we'll get along when we start having kids. I realize that I have something here with Cooking For Engineers - people seem to like it and I enjoy writing it, so I want to do whatever I can to ensure that I can keep working on it.
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toholio



Joined: 21 Mar 2006
Posts: 1

PostPosted: Tue Mar 21, 2006 8:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Michael Chu wrote:
So, the reason why I felt I could apply for a patent on the tabular recipe notation is because it seemed to be a novel way to represent recipes in a compact and easy to comprehend (to some) way that had not previously been done in any widespread fashion.
It is an excellent way of presenting recipes and you should be given credit for using it in the way you do.


Michael Chu wrote:
The reason why I actually filed for a patent was to protect my ability to earn money off of it.
This isn't unreasonable but it means I don't want to contribute or donate to your site.

Michael Chu wrote:
From the day that I started Cooking For Engineers, I had one year to file for a patent (according to U.S. law). If I did not, then in the future I would not have the option to earn money through the tabular recipe notation (by charging licensing fees to food corporations, etc.).
As an aside, I'm not convinced there is much of a commercial market out there for the notation but I may be completely wrong about this.


Michael Chu wrote:
If the patent is granted in the future, and if I decide to use the patent to make some money, I have decided that I would provide free licensing to most non-profit organizations.
Having you say that makes me feel much better about the whole deal. It's certainly more than lots of people would do.

Michael Chu wrote:
Now a question back to my readers: Do you feel that this is a selfish action?
I don't think that it is selfish but, in my opinion, these kinds of patents are a problem and a nice way of laying out data doesn't amount to an invention. Like I said above, if you're planning on making money out of this then I don't want to donate or contribute.

Saying that you'd let other people use the notation for non-profit purposes is a very good move in my book. If someone wanted to jot down a recipe idea or similar on their blog would you object to them using the notation and mentioning that they got the idea from your site? What kind of criteria would people/organisations need for you to bless their usage of the notation (I assume you wouldn't let any competing recipe archives use it)?
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Jay Francis



Joined: 14 Apr 2006
Posts: 11
Location: Houston, Texas

PostPosted: Fri Apr 14, 2006 7:33 pm    Post subject: Michael Chu's Format Is Truly Elegant Reply with quote

No doubt about it, the "CHUFORMAT" is wonderful to look at and appeals to my scientific side. But. Well, here's the but. From a standpoint of typing out recipes quickly, the two column format works really well. I like them both. But since the two column format lends itself to quick typing in Word, it gets my vote.

I recently had the pleasure of recipe testing for Robb Walsh's The Tex-Mex Cookbook. I learned that just about every publishing company has specifi rules about how their recipes have to be done.
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grantmasterflash



Joined: 19 Feb 2006
Posts: 10

PostPosted: Tue May 16, 2006 6:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'll second my opinion, data formats should never be patented, nothing good ever comes from it. Do you think it's better to earn money by constraining someone elses creativity or to provide a service and/or content? One holds people back the other promotes them. I'll take providing a service or content. I spend three months a year travelling through Europe with my family and everything I do for work has to do with open standards and free software. There's nothing stopping any of the coorporations I work for from going it without me. I don't have any problem paying for my travels using this business model. I sell my time and my knowledge. I'm pretty sure that Cooking for Engineers has something more to offer than a recipe format that's existed for some time anyway (from what I understand from previous posts).

Grant
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