Adages: Your Child was in Violation of Federal Law

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We'd like to thank Tom Anderson, over at sibling publication Crain's Detroit Business, for reporting a bit of good news. Seems that the Southfield, Mich., offices of the Brooks Kushman law firm received a Christmas present from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Perhaps hit by one of the few stray common-sense particles bouncing around D.C., the Patent Office said the people were free to make peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches without, as Tom puts it, "getting in a jam with the federal government."

No, you didn't miss the great PB&J Prohibition movement. Rather, Tom relates, "In 2001, Albie's Foods Inc., a grocery and catering company in Gaylord that was selling crustless peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches to schools for their lunch programs, received a letter from a law firm representing the Ohio-based food giant J.M. Smucker Co. Albie's should, said the letter, cease and desist from violating Smucker's patent."

That's right. Smucker's tried to patent the PB&J sandwich at the end of 1999. And succeeded! With a name like Smucker's, it's got be completely insane.

OK, to be fair, what Smucker's received a patent for was its Uncrustable sandwich, the round, crust-free things sold in the frozen-foods aisle. But the patent's still fun to read and look at, especially the diagram showing how the sandwich is assembled. After Ablie's lawyers made their case, Smucker's lost an appeal in September and a deadline for a final appeal came and went in December.

And to think, Smucker's would still hold U.S. patent No. 6,004,596 if it hadn't sent that cease-and-desist order.

New book from ad-industry vet actually worth reading

The Adages Book Club is long a thing of the past. One of the main reasons is we get so many books by authors who've self-published attempts at biography thinly disguised as fiction ("From the moment he walked into the office, he could tell his assistant was intimidated by his creative prowess") or, worse, self-published "business books" that amount to little more than pamphlets full of such insights as "think outside the box."

So we were pleased to receive a review copy of Nigel Marsh's "Fat, Forty and Fired," which hits book stores in May. Published in the states by Andrews McMeel Publishing (note: a real publishing house, and one that deals in humor!), the book claims to be "one man's frank, funny and inspiring account of losing his job and finding his life." Why should we care? Because the job lost here is an ad job. Nigel was CEO of D'Arcy Australia but exited after the shop was merged into the Publicis network in 2003.

At any rate, Adages hasn't read the whole book yet, but we'll recommend it based on the opening lines: "Santa didn't come to Sydney last year. The community nurse came instead. My four kids weren't exactly thrilled with this swap-but then again, neither was I. Having over two pounds of seaweed gauze repeatedly packed into a fresh-cut ass wound does tend to take the edge off one's festive mood."


'CosmoGirl' digs up the dirt on Ugly Betty, and it ain't pretty

Adages couldn't help but pass along a brief anecdote recorded by our mysterious colleague, the Freeloader. Freeloader was tempted out of the office during daylight hours to attend CosmoGirl's "Be Ugly" party featuring "Ugly Betty" star America Ferrera. "Ferrera," writes Freeloader, "couldn't help but point out the issue's unfortunate placement of the tagline 'I was forced to be a prostitute' underneath her Betty headshot." Too funny. We guess that sort of makes up for the fact that the martinis served at the luncheon contained no alcohol.

A moment of silence, please

Adages would like to note that two Japanese men who directly influenced our lives passed away recently. Momofuko Ando, who invented ramen noodles, died at the age of 96. And Iwao Takamoto (who was actually born in America), the creator of Scooby Doo, the Great Gazoo and the Grape Ape, died at 81.

Contributing: Tom Anderson, Andrew Hampp

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