Home / Insights / Recipes and the Trouble with Copyright Protection

Recipes and the Trouble with Copyright Protection

by | Feb 13, 2020 | Business' Intellectual Property, Intellectual Property

Are you starting a new restaurant based on some family recipes? Or selling fresh baked goods based on a recipe you created? Are you thinking about how to protect that recipe so no one else will copy or steal it? 

Make sure you educate yourself on how best to protect your recipe.

A recipe is considered “a mere listing of ingredients” and is not protected under copyright law. However, if the recipe is accompanied by “substantial literary expression in the form of an explanation or directions,” it may be protected under copyright law. Also, a collection of recipes in a cookbook may be protected under copyright law.

Once you obtain a copyright registration, the work, in this case a collection of recipes, becomes a public record for everyone to see. So if you do not want anyone to copy your recipes, you need to treat them like a trade secret instead. Keep those recipes locked up!

How to Keep Your Recipe a Trade Secret

The state in which you work and live may have a trade secret law that will protect your recipe if you take necessary steps to protect it. 

There is also the Federal Defend Trade Secrets Act which sets forth criteria for claiming a recipe, method, or formula as a trade secret. 

Here are few simple tips to follow for keeping your recipe a trade secret:

  1. Place the recipe in a safe place. For example, you could store it in a safe, vault, or an encrypted computer file, where only certain trusted employees have access. Each trusted employee should sign a confidentiality agreement, a non-compete and a non-Disclosure agreement when they first become employed by your company and before they have access to the secret recipe.
  2. Have a process for tracking the sales generated by your secret recipe. This helps you determine the value of the trade secret (recipe) which is considered an intellectual property asset for your business.
  3. Provide regular training to your trusted employees. Make sure they understand their legal duty in maintaining the confidentiality of trade secrets that bring value to your business.

Learn in the early stages of starting your business what is considered an intellectual property asset (i.e., trade secret, trademark, copyright, patent). And take all necessary steps to protect these valuable assets that bring unique value to your company and distinguish your business from your competitors. 

If you need assistance with this task, contact Marks Gray intellectual property lawyer Crystal Broughan.


Get in Touch with Us

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.


Marks Gray P.A.

Connect with Us