Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Cereal Solidarity

Over the past few months I have been watching with interest the startup of new cereal restaurants, with Cereality as the one getting the most press. As I've indicated, Cereality is feeling threatened by the the newer ones, such as The Cereal Bowl and Cerealogy, and has itself threatened legal action if they believe their ideas are being copied.
 
Not everyone is impressed with this bullying, or with the patent-madness that has overtaken some industries. FreeCulture.org, "an international student movement for free culture", has taken this cause on and have created a website project called "Cereal Solidarity".  They believe that "If these patents are approved by the U.S. Patent Office, Cereality would have a complete monopoly on cereal bar business--just for being the first to put together the legalese necessary to describe mixing breakfast cereal."  Ultimately, they believe it "isn't just about cereal. It's about whether or not people should be able to claim an exclusive right on mundane ideas that any eight-year-old could think of. And it's about the future of American enterpreneurship."
 
Their solution to the problem is:
  • "We're asking Cereality to withdraw their patent application. (An apology would be nice, too.)
  • "If Cereality insists on continuing, we're asking the Patent Office to reject the application.
  • "And to solve the problem once and for all, we're asking Congress to eliminate business method patents altogether."
They are also urging people to sign their online peitition.
 
It's getting interesting! I am wondering if Cereality could be creating a PR disaster that will destroy their reputation in the business world and among consumers. At this early stage in the growth of this restaurant concept there is room for a number of players. May the companies that best meet the needs of consumers succeed!

 

1 comment:

pjd said...

My friend Becky owns Eaties Cereal Bar in Asheville NC, she is being harrassed by The Cereal Bowl under the same claims of concept ownership and threatened lawsuits for pending patents. After a little web research I found "The Cereal Adventure Cafe" owned by General Mills and located inside their "Cereal Adventure" theme park in The Mall of America. It opened in 2001 and would appear to be originator of the concept and prove prior arts over Cereality and The Cereal Bowl.