Devices used for producing ice cream cones usually comprise a carousel with work stations arranged around it, with the cones held up by supports.
However, when leaving the supports and moving on to a conveyor belt for packaging the cones could be placed on to the belt in a haphazard manner. As a result, liquid ice cream could leak from the cone.
The newly granted patent, EP 2317866 B1, protects a method for supporting the wafer to keep it in a vertical orientation while it is on the belt.
Joanna Thurston, partner and patent attorney at law firm Withers & Rogers, which specialises in trademark and patent cases, told FoodManufacture.co.uk the approach had been used for some time.
Not rendered graphically
However, no objection to registering the patent could be raised on the grounds that it lacked novelty or innovation, because the design had not been rendered graphically until recently.
"It is somewhat surprising that this feature is considered inventive enough to secure patent protection. Surely it is obvious that one would want to stop the contents of the cone from spilling out?"
"Perhaps the very fact that this method has been practised for years without becoming public knowledge has enabled it to be considered a patentable technology.
'Extremely difficult to challenge'
"After all, in considering this application, the European Patent Office (EPO) is likely to have had little or no published prior art to rely on, which would have made it extremely difficult to challenge the application on the grounds that it lacked novelty or innovation.
"Assuming this is what happened, it would go some way to explain why the application has been granted."
Records of the manufacture of edible ice cream cones date back to at least 1825.
And Frederick Bruckman, an inventor from Portland, Oregon, patented a machine for rolling ice cream cones in 1912. Supporting this was the introduction of prefilled cones, which can be stored in the freezer and have been available for nearly as long.