Finding Fortune in a Glass of Wine

Name:Torben Flanbaum
Country / Territory:Denmark
IP right(s):Patents
Date of publication:December 10, 2010
Last update:July 11, 2012

Background

It all began with a dream.

Torben Flanbaum, a retired Danish plumber, was sitting down at home one day watching a TV program about wine and the correct way to serve it. Apart from the wine bottle itself, the wine-pouring method used two separate objects. Traditionally, wine was poured through a Ventury channel – an hour-glass-shaped device which constricts the flow of wine, reduces its speed and increases its pressure – attached to the rim of a wine decanter - a receptacle into which the poured wine rests.



Menu A/S Wine Decanting Pourer (United States Patent 6568660)

It became apparent to Mr. Flanbaum that the prevailing method of pouring and decanting wine was unnecessarily complicated. There were a few problems with the old method. When pouring wine through the Ventury channel and into the decanter, much care was needed in order not to spill it onto surrounding surfaces. Moreover, to aerate or add air into the wine, the entire contents of the bottle had to be emptied into the decanter; this was an unnecessary step for one who wants to pour a single glass of wine at a time. Finally, aerating wine into a decanter, as opposed to aerating it into a wine glass, led to a slight loss in the wine’s flavor. 

On the night after watching the TV program, Mr.Flanbaum dreamt of a better way to pour and decanter wine. The next day, the former plumber began working on a prototype wine decanter. While developing a prototype, Mr. Flanbaum discovered a single-step solution. Combining the function of the Ventury channel with that of the wine decanter into a single device resulted in a wine-decanting-pourer. Another innovation was to add an air vent onto the device, a vent that permits air into the wine, aerating it as it is poured. This three-in-one device - a pourer, a decanter and an aerator - was attached to the mouth of the wine bottle and guided the wine directly from the bottle and into a glass. The new device made using a decanter unnecessary, and because its elongated, drip-free structure is attached to the mouth of the wine bottle, it reduces the risk of spilling wine both during and at the end of pouring. Finally, wine poured with Mr. Flabnbaum’s device has an extra benefit in that it keeps its original flavor.  

Partnerships and Licensing

Mr. Flanbaum understood the need to seek expert partners if the invention was to acquire aesthetic appeal, achieve full functionality and reap a financial reward. Spurred on by big dreams and the new invention, Mr. Flanbaum sought business partners to develop and market the decanter. During an investor’s course in 1999, the plumber-turned-inventor presented the wine decanting pourer at the Danish Invention Centre. 

Present on that day was Menu A/S, a multiple award-winning, medium-sized, Danish design company that specializes in creating exciting dinning products. Among Menu A/S’ stated goals is to create dynamic house-hold products with new combinations in form, function, material and aesthetics. Menu A/S and its expert team of designers quickly realized the market potential of Mr. Flanbaum’s invention and provided the much needed expertise and investment to prepare the decanter for sale to a global market of wine drinkers and restaurateurs.

Mr. Flanbaum found an ideal partner in Martin Sonne, a member of Menu A/S who specializes in graphics and industrial design. Their collaboration resulted in a well-designed, highly desirable product: the 3.7 inch, stainless steel, plastic and rubber Menu Decanter Pourer. Mr. Flanbaum and Menu A/S signed a licensing agreement that allowed Menu A/S to develop and market the wine decanter pourer. 


Menu A/S Wine Decanting Pourer (United States Patent 6568660)

Patents

In order to protect the intellectual property (IP) invested in the Wine Decanting Pourer, Menu A/S applied for a Danish patent for it. Recognizing the need to expand into the global market while protecting their IP, the company also filed for several oversees patents including one with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). 

IP Management

The managers at Menu A/S are aware that their products are often copied and have therefore employed a team of IP lawyers to represent them. Menu A/S says that any infringements of its IP will be prosecuted and that the company has, in fact, prosecuted IP transgressors and received substantial financial compensation in the past. The company keeps vigilance over its IP, thus securing its investments both at home and abroad.  

Business Results

In 1999, Mr. Flanbaum’s wine decanter was honored with the Norwegian design prize, "Sjølystprisen". The decanter has since become Menu A/S’ best-selling product, spearheading the company’s expansion into the global design market for household products.  More than 85% of the wine decanter’s sales are to foreign markets.

To dream; that is the answer!

It all began with a dream for Torben Flanbaum. Recognizing a few problems with the way wine was poured, the plumber-turned-inventor seized the opportunity for an invention, filed for a patent, and found fortune in a glass of wine.