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After recently celebrating the holiday’s many of us can appreciate the various enjoyable aspects despite how 2020 affected them. One of those most essential parts of the holidays is…the FOOD.

Whether you await Aunt Becky’s special recipe for ham or your mother in-law’s prime rib, food often ties together family and friends for at least a few moments around the crazy holidays. These days members of the next generation are starting their culinary journey by acquiring recipes from their parents or clever Christmas gifts of recipe books.  These recipes that are written down all have something in common, they are “fixed in a tangible medium of expression.” For those of you that have read some Eden Law articles on copyright (or have outside knowledge), you know that phrase can qualify something for copyright protection. So, the million-dollar (okay not that much) question is, can I obtain copyright protection for my recipes?

In short, no.

Recipes are considered a process, and as a previous article has suggested; facts, processes, and methods are not usually protectable.

Now if you’re thinking outside the box, there are times when food recopies are part of something protectable, like a song, or a poem, or a story. “Margaritaville” by Jimmy Buffet is a classic example, where the perfect combo margarita centered snack is the liquor in the blender, the salt in the saltshaker, and the shrimp beginning to broil. You can be sure this song is copyright protected.

There is also creative copyright in film and television recipes, but in relation, only to the show or movie, they are from. For example, if someone started selling packages of a premade “James Bond” martini, or a Krabby Patty from the hit children’s show Spongebob, they could potentially be liable for copyright infringement versus if they just sold a dry martini, shaken not stirred or a burger featuring traditional toppings.

The idea of a stolen recipe has been the central theme for different Holiday movies, however, if anything, a stolen recipe would fall under the intellectual property rules governing trade secrets as opposed to copyright law.

For registration for your copyrightable work or an evaluation concerning your material and it can obtain copyright protection, contact Eden Law today!


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