We have a small company that makes soil amendments from post-consumer food waste, which we compost using acidic anaerobic fermentation, also called Bokashi, the Japanese term, where the technique was perfected.
Well, as it turns out, a guy in Oregon is trying to patent the process of pickling the garbage and making agricultural amendments out of it. And not only that, he is sending us threatening letters and demands for a licensing fee and royalties, even though, as far as we can tell, his patent application has not yet been approved. His application is patent application #US 2013/0344558.
There are millions of people around the world using the process. It is not rocket science. Basically we are pickling garbage in a closed barrel and then using the fermented garbage to make soil for farms, gardens, etc. The process uses Effective Microorganisms (EM1) to activate the fermentation. The patent application (#US 2013/0344558) claims that he "invented" the process, which is a load of B.S. A simple Google search will prove otherwise. There are entire farming schools in Korea that teach and use the practice as the basis for their farming methods. It is widely practiced in Japan, Korea, Germany, New Zealand, and Hawaii! I could go on and on.
I have two questions:
Is it too late to submit prior art in case the USPTO doesn't look for it themselves?
Our process is different in a few significant ways from the process he lays out in his patent application. How different does a process need to be in order to not have to worry about it even if his application does get approved?
Please help. We are diverting tons of food waste from landfills and making it into healthy soil for farmers, using an ancient technique that is not a secret. Please help us defeat this dangerous patent application.