Brookstone claims department stores stole fork idea

The Brookstone Co., of Merrimack, has accused JC Penney and Bon-Ton Department Stores of ripping off its patented digital barbecue fork.

The company and its lawyer, Teresa Tucker, of Manchester, filed suit against the two stores Monday in U.S. District Court, charging patent infringement for its “electronic chef’s fork.”

According to the company’s patent, the device was invented in 1999 by Christopher Archand and Rudy Woodard, of Nashua, and Patrick Fong Wing Hon, So Si Kin and Charles Wong Tak Chun, of Hong Kong.

The fork allows the user to select the type of meat, and then uses a thermometer to gauge (by sticking the fork in it) whether it’s rare, medium rare, medium or well done.