Initially, KFC relied heavily on patents that protected its unique method for deep frying chicken without drying it out. These original patents have since expired and been substituted with equipment‐specific patents. Increasingly, KFC trades off the global reputation in its trademarks, while continuing to paint a mirage of alluring know‐how in its secret mix of "11 herbs and spices".
Reportedly, Sanders' secret recipe of "11 herbs and spices" is KFC's most valuable intellectual property. But, this is just marketing-speak. Although, the precise composition of Sanders' recipe remains "secret", the KFC breading material is believed to comprise:
2 cups of white flour
2/3 table spoons of salt
1/2 table spoon of thyme
1/2 table spoon of basil
1/3 table spoon of oregano
1 tablespoon of celery salt
1 table spoon of black pepper
1 table spoon of dried mustard
4 table spoons of paprika
2 table spoons of garlic salt
1 table spoon of ground ginger
3 table spoons of white pepper
Unlike KFC's cooking process, this mix of herbs and spices has no "technical effect" and was never patentable. In any event, when it comes to a recipe (as compared to a cooking process), a "perpetual secret" is always better than a 20‐year patent ‐ KFC took a leaf out of Coke's book written 66 years earlier.
Clearly, you may not use "KFC", "Kentucky Fried Chicken" or an image of an old man with a goatee and string bowtie.
Also, keep a wide berth around:
Surprisingly, in most countries, you may refer to "Bucket", "Rounder", "Streetwise" and "Mashies".
Drum roll … this is KFC's foundational patent:
US3245800 "Process for producing fried chicken under pressure":
Technical benefit: the 15 psi pressure is sufficiently close to the "vapour pressure" of water at 250 degrees F to substantially prevent boiling away of moisture from the pieces and breading material. It is this technical benefit that made the above cooking process "inventive" and, therefore, patentable.
US5721001 "Fried food producing method and apparatus therefor":
US5185172 "Method for simulating open flame broiled meat products", the apparatus having:
US5246719 "Process of preparing a batter‐free breaded poultry product":
wherein the product that is produced by said steps 1‐3 does not bear a layer of batter.
US5077065 "Method for extending the holding time for cooked food":
KFC only registered patents for its composite bucket and interactive box:
KFC has various patents that cover its unique cooking equipment, including: pressurized cooking system, pumping system, hot oil recirculating system, deep fat frying system, pressure release valve, frying equipment, cooking apparatus (x2), oven (all since expired), rotisserie and griddle:
As would be expected, KFC's designs focus on its unique packaging items:
Note: KFC has no rights over a "bucket".
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