Patent of the Month September
A short story of “bottling”
For September, the month of harvesting, we came across a patent that revolutionised the method of preserving. In Germany, nowadays, it is known as "einwecken" and the corresponding jar is called a "Weckglas". However, if the name was strictly related to the inventor’s merit, we would actually be "rempling" our fruit and vegetables, because the inventor of the preserving jar was Dr. Rudolf Rempel. As early as 1892, his invention "Apparatus for the Automatic Closing and Venting of Sterilising Vessels" (DE000000066898A) was patented in Germany - our Patent of the Month of September!
Rudolf Rempel worked as a chemist in the laboratories of the "Actien-Gesellschaft für Chemische Industrie" in Schalke. In his spare time, he and his wife experimented on the sterilisation of food. In the process, he regarded the findings of the Frenchman Francois Nicolas Appert, who had already worked on vacuum sterilisation in 1810. At first, Rempel experimented with milk, which he boiled down in laboratory jars with smooth rims in a water bath. In order to seal the vessels well, he placed a rubber ring between the glass and the lid and weighed down the lid using a weight.
The surprisingly good result of this preserved milk motivated him to extend the experiments to other foods. He aimed at making a device that would hold the lids on the jars during heating. Thereby, he developed a pot in which the jars could be fixed in such a way that their lids were pressed firmly onto the rubber ring during the boiling down process - the first preserving apparatus was invented!
The Leipzig patent lawyer Dr Otto Sack, a friend of Rempel's, recommended patent protection of the "new preservation process". However, before Rudolf Rempel could make a profit from his invention, he fell seriously ill and died in 1894 at the age of only 34. His patent initially passed to Albert Hüssener, the director of the company where Rempel was employed. Due to poor marketing, the commercial success of the preserving jars failed to materialize, until Carl Johann Weck finally adopted the patent.
Weck had been one of Rempel’s first and most committed customers. Being a vegetarian and a teetotaller, he was fascinated by the idea of preserving fruits and juices without fermentation.
Together with the merchant Georg van Eyck, he founded the company J. Weck & Co in 1900. In addition to patent protection, Weck® registered his name as a trademark - one of the first branded products in Germany had been created!
It turned out to be a smart move, because the impatient businessman left the company after only two years, with a satisfactory licensing agreement in his pocket! At that time, no one could have guessed that the brand would be successful to this day. In 1934, the term "einwecken" was even included in the German dictionary Duden. Nevertheless, we owe the timeless invention of preserving to Dr. Rudolf Rempel!
The Patent and Standards Centre wishes you more inspiring ideas!
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