Thursday, March 13, 2008

Tupperware Patents

The U.S. economy may be sputtering, consumer confidence is tanking, and food and energy prices are at all-time highs. But there's one company that sees a silver lining in all this gloomy news. Tupperware, the 62-year old company famous for its plastic food storage products, knows that when times are bad, it's sales go up. People still have to eat, after all, and they need a safe way to store their leftovers.

Earl S. Tupper (1907-1983), the company's founder and namesake, had patented several small inventions (comb case, shoe heel) before he found success in plastic containers. On October 5, 1946 he filed four design patent applications for a sugar bowl (D156855), pitcher (D154348) and pitcher covers (D158155 and D156854), which were issued between 1949-1950. A year later, a paint can lid inspired him to design an air-tight container for food. In 1954, Tupper received his first patent for container specifically designed for food (2695645).

Tupperware has received thousands of patents (mostly design patents) on food storage, preparation and serving products. In 1969, Tupperware was sold to Rexall Drugs, which later became Dart Industries. All Tupperware patents since the early 1970s have been assigned to Dart. Both Tupperware and Dart are now based in Orlando, Florida.