Russians invent ... bottles?

| Wed Aug. 2, 2000 3:00 AM EDT

What if every Chinese restaurant suddenly had to start paying royalties to a company that claimed it had just invented cardboard cartons? What if bottlers of beer, juice, water, and soft drinks had to fork over 0.5 percent of their total income to some guys who sauntered over to the government patent office, ponied up a few bucks, and staked out a patent on bottles? In Russia, they're finding out.

The CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR reports that a little-known Moscow company called Intellekt recently successfully applied for a patent on "glass containers," and now claims that bottlers, especially brewers, owe them royalties for using their "invention."

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Taking advantage of Russia's fledgling intellectual property laws to claim ownership of a product that's been around for years apparently wasn't much of a challenge. "The drawings that were submitted described a particular kind of geometric curve, detailing a difference in thickness between inside and outside edges," justifies an official from the patent bureau. "It looked new."

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