Cooking Up Intellectual Property Protection

When a person creates a recipe from scratch that tastes wonderful, it is no wonder that they would be inclined for protect that recipe.  A delicious new food or sauce can be really profitable as others pine for a taste of the scrumptious creation. With the ability to monetize a new recipe, protecting the intellectual property behind the recipe can be critical, especially if a business is built around it. What types of intellectual property protections are available for recipes?

Protecting A Recipe With A Patent

Recipes are patentable subject matter under 35 USC 101 as a new composition of matter, or as a new process. And a new recipe can certainly be novel under 35 USC 102 if it is novel.  However, recipes as non-obvious patentable inventions are a hard-sell to patent examiners.

In the traditional sense, most recipes are simply a list of ingredients and instructions on how to combine those ingredients to arrive at the final product, dish, food or sauce. Recipes are often rejected by the patent office as obvious because there are many known recipes for any number of food items or sauces, and merely swapping out one ingredient for another is often considered by examiners to be obvious to a person having ordinary skill in the art.

That is not to say that all recipe-type inventions are not patentable. Some recipe process steps could be patentable if they produce an unexpected result. Similarly, some recipes might produce a product that cannot be produced any other way, and the product produced by the recipe may be patentable.

Protecting a Recipe As A Trade Secret

Keeping a recipe as a trade secret is a practical intellectual property strategy. Many famous companies have built their success around a recipe that has long been kept a trade secret. A few popular examples include:

The recipe for Coca-Cola.

The herbs and spices recipe used by KFC.

The recipe for Mrs. Field’s Chocolate Chip Cookies

The formulation for WD-40 lubricant spray.

The recipe for Listerine.

Companies can keep a recipe secret by taking steps to protect who has access to the recipe and safeguarding the recipe.

If you have questions about protecting the intellectual property associated with a recipe you have developed, please feel free to contact Parsons & Goltry online, or by calling 480-991-3435.

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