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Can I Copyright a Recipe?

ingredients for recipe

Whether you’re an amateur baker or a professional chef, creating the perfect recipe is a feeling like no other. After hours of trial and error, you finally have the exact measurements and ingredients necessary to create a delicious concoction. After you publish your recipe on your blog or in a book, you notice that it continues to pop up all over the internet, none of the posts crediting you. Not only is this frustrating, but it must be illegal, right?  The following blog explores your legal rights to a recipe and discusses how text copyright infringement lawyers can help you navigate this process.

Is a Recipe Protected by Copyright?

Generally, you cannot protect a recipe, as they are typically considered an idea. Because ideas are abstract, they cannot be copyrighted as there is no physical expression of the work. A list of ingredients is not a concrete expression, meaning you cannot copyright it. However, if you include additional content, such as text, photos, or videos, with the recipe, that content is protected by copyright. However, the list of ingredients will still not be covered under copyright.

If you have a collection of recipes, the book can be copyrighted as collections are protected even if they are abstract ideas. This is because the law considered this compilation of work as a creative form of art. Similarly, trade secrets are protected by law, but the actual ingredient list will not be protected by copyright laws.

What Can I Do to Protect My Recipe?

If you’ve created a recipe that you’re exceptionally proud of, understanding how to protect it is essential. While you may not be able to copyright the actual list, you can take steps to protect the other content from being reproduced. You may have noticed that many recipe creators will include anecdotes about the sentimentality of the recipe or the process of discovering it. Similarly, they may provide artful and creative expressions of how to make the dish.

Like a list of ingredients, simple directions are not protected under copyright laws. However, describing the cooking process in a creative manner can help keep this content protected.

Can an Attorney Help Me?

If you’ve created a recipe and are interested in copyrighting it before publishing it on the internet or in a cookbook, ensuring you speak with a seasoned attorney as soon as possible is recommended. They can help explore your legal options, ensuring that your work is protected and helping you navigate infringement claims should they arise.

At CopyCat Legal, we understand that you’ve experimented in the kitchen to find the perfect ingredients and measurements for your recipe. Our legal team will work with you to help you get the protection necessary to copyright your written recipe. Contact us today to learn how we can assist you.

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