Apple, Inc. is world-renown in the technology field, and famous for their innovation in smartphones and tablets. Deeply involved with all things intellectual property, it is no surprise Apple boasts a robust patent portfolio. Despite the fact that the company continues to file patents on cutting-edge technology, Apple’s most popular patent, and perhaps their most interesting, was recently granted: the reinvented pizza box.

In the 1800’s, bakers in Naples used stufas, copper containers with pointed lids, to transport small pizzas to those on the street. When pizza took off in America, the first licensed New York pizzeria, Lombardi’s, sold pizzas at room temperature. Early pizzerias sold pizza that was rolled into a cone that could be reheated on furnaces, while others sold pizza in paper bags. In the 1950’s, paperboard bakery boxes became the popular mode of pizza-transport. However, paperboard boxes suffered from poor durability. In the 1960’s, Domino’s made the greatest step in pizza-box innovation when they created the cardboard pizza box as we know it today. Now, many believe Apple has revolutionized pizza transportation.

The newly patented pizza box, titled simply “CONTAINER” (US20120024859 A1), is the newest innovation in pizza box design. According to Apple’s patent, CONTAINER is designed to keep pizzas “fresh and crisp and hot for an extended period of time.” The patent lists Francesco Longoni, Apple’s had of food services, as the inventor.

To keep the crust crispy, the pizza box has several features including “a moisture channeling feature integrally formed in the lid,” “a plurality of openings,” and “a path by which … moisture … is expelled from the food [and] transported out of the container.” The bottom of the container also contains “concentric ridges that provide structural support for the container and elevates a food item from the bottom surface.” The new pizza box is used by Apple employees to carry personal-sized pizzas from the Apple Park Café to their desks without the risk of the pizza crust becoming soggy.

Unlike the standard pizza box, Apple’s CONTAINER is circular, has a hinge on the side, and is constructed from a single piece of material. The patent cites environmental concerns as the inspiration for the innovative box saying “due to environmental concerns, and in order to reduce the amount of consumption of materials, what is needed is a container that is adaptable for use in a wide variety of applications.” The pizza box can be made from recyclable materials, such as molded fiber.

The pizza container quickly became a popular staple in Apple’s office culture. Apple food service employees even signed a pizza box and placed it at a memorial for Steve Jobs following his death in 2011. The pizza box has gained popularity online after it was featured in Wired’s exclusive look at Apple’s new headquarters in Cupertino.

The Wired article credits the pizza box to Apple’s infatuation with innovation. Apple believes that perfection in the work environment will inspire its employees to match that effort in the products they create. They encourage those creating the environment at every level to aspire for high levels of quality and innovation.

Despite its popularity with employees and attention from the internet, Apple has no plans to launch the pizza box commercially. But, who knows? The perfect pizza box may just inspire the next big Apple product.

Suiter Swantz IP is a full-service intellectual property law firm based in Omaha, NE, serving all of Nebraska, Iowa, and South Dakota. If you have any intellectual property questions or need assistance with any patent, trademark, or copyright matters and would like to speak to one of our patent attorneys please feel free to contact us.