Inventor wins rights to bacon-cooking dish

BIRCHWOOD, Minn. (AP) — A company accused of copying a patented bacon-cooking dish has served up a settlement offer the teenage inventor of the recipe and her father can swallow.
Abbey Fleck and her father, Jonathan, came up with a microwave bacon-cooking dish that they started marketing in 1994. They went to court last year to protect their invention, accusing Pennsylvania-based Tristar Products of infringing on their patented dish, called “Makin Bacon.”
Tristar has offered the suburban St. Paul 13-year-old and her father $150,000 and an acknowledgment that the Flecks have patent rights to Abbey’s dish. Tristar also has agreed to send the Flecks the molds it used for its Incredible Bacon Cooker, the product the Birchwood residents alleged was a rip-off of theirs.
“We are satisfied,” Jonathan Fleck said on Monday, even though Tristar never wrote his family a letter of apology. “We got from them a consent judgment which validates our patents.”
Abbey came up with the idea for her product about five years ago while watching her father cook bacon. After he ran out of paper towels to sop up the grease, Abbey suggested that he could avoid the mess if the bacon strips were hung above a dish while they cooked.
The two designed a prototype dish, a small plastic tray that includes a handle and three small holes into which T-shaped hangers are inserted to hold the bacon.
The Flecks formed their own company, called A de F Ltd. While not revealing company sales, Jonathan Fleck said that “hundreds of thousands” of the cooking dishes have been sold.
Despite the settlement, Tristar president Keith Mirchandani denies his company infringed on the Flecks’ product. He contended Tristar’s product had a different design and that the company stopped selling its bacon cooker once the Flecks received their patent rights last fall.