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Recipe Copyright Issues

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What Is a Copyright?

A copyright is a right to prevent others from using your originally authored work. Under the federal copyright law, a copyright entitles the owner to many exclusive rights, such as the right to:

  • Reproduce the copyrighted work
  • Distribute copies of the copyrighted work to the public for sale
  • Perform the copyrighted work

Can I Copyright My Own Recipes?

If your recipe merely contains a list of ingredients, then it does not qualify for copyright protection. However, if the recipe is accompanied by directions or instructions, then you may be able to get copyright protection as long as the other requirements of copyright law are met. Generally, this means you must have independently created the work and not adapted it from something else. A compilation of recipes, as in a cookbook, is also entitled to copyright protection.

Will My Recipe Be Kept Secret If I Copyright It?

Your application for copyright protection, including the copy of your recipe will be made public. Therefore, if there are secret ingredients in your recipe that you do not want to be revealed to the public, you should not submit your recipe for copyright registration.

Can Others Make My Copyrighted Recipe?

Even if you get a copyright for your recipe, others can still use your recipe to make food. A copyright only protects the written work (e.g., the instructions for the recipe); it does not protect the food itself.

Should I Consult a Lawyer about My Copyright Issue?

The deadlines and regulations for copyright registration are detailed and strict. An experienced intellectual property lawyer can help make sure that you meet all the deadlines and requirements. An intellectual property attorney also can help you if someone has violated your copyright.

Photo of page author Adam Vukovic

, LegalMatch Legal Writer

Last Modified: 01-08-2015 11:56 AM PST

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