Probably not. No matter how new a formula (a.k.a. recipe) may be, if it simply comprises a combination of ingredients mixed together to form a new and unique dish, it is not likely to be copyrightable. And, once published, even if the recipe contains additional descriptions or commentary or similar copyrightable expressive content, nothing would actually prevent someone from making the dish.
Consider an example of the brand-new restaurant, whose chefs for have worked together to create a very unique and unusual menu for their customers. After several months, one chef leaves to start a new restaurant – and publishes a cookbook that contains many of the recipes he co-developed with his former co-owner.
Is this infringement?
This is actually a trick question – the answer is, “not much”. Generally, trademarks refer to source-identifying marks used in connection with goods (products) and service marks are used for the same purpose, but in connection with services. The associated rights – to be able to preclude others from using a confusingly similar mark in connection with similar goods or services – are the same.
But one important way in which they are different is the way in which an applicant for registration of a mark with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office (“PTO”) demonstrates that it is using the mark in commerce. Whether an applicant applies for registration of a mark based on actual use in commerce (§ 1(a)) or based upon a bona fide intent to use the mark in commerce (“ITU” – § 1(b)), each applicant must at some point during the prosecution of its application submit an example (“Specimen”) of how the mark is used in commerce in connection with the specific goods or services. (For more about the trademark application process, see Common Questions: What’s Involved in Registering a U.S. Trademark.)
Acceptable Specimens for Trademarks
Simply put, if an applicant seeks to demonstrate use of its mark in connection with goods, it must show the mark as used in the process of selling or offering to sell those goods to the purchasing public. Examples of such use include:
I am pleased to announce that I have joined the IP practice of the law firm, Eckert Seamans Cherin & Mellott, LLC, in its Philadelphia Office. While I’m getting settled, I will not be in a position to post updates to this blog. However, this interruption will only be temporary and I hope to resume posting on new developments in the IP world again shortly – either here or on a blog to be created within the firm. Please stay tuned. If you need to reach me in the meantime, please email me directly.
Privacy and IP Law Blog
On May 11, 2016, Pres. Obama signed into law the Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2016, S. 1890, 114th Congr. (2d Sess. 2016) (“DTSA“), which provides for the first time a federal private right of action to litigants for trade secrets violations. Most states – except for Massachusetts and New York – have enacted versions of the Uniform Trade Secrets Act (“UTSA“) but the DTSA provides additional remedies without preempting state laws or eliminating any of the protections offered by them. Business owners will need to take some actions in the short term in order to take advantage of some of the more powerful remedies created by the DTSA.
News of data security breaches at one company or another has become so common that perhaps we are becoming immune to the significant impact these breaches can have on those whose information are affected. Not only can identity theft destroy an affected individual’s credit and limit his/her future buying choices, but also it is becoming clear that, philosophically, perhaps our private data really aren’t private anymore. Think of how easy it is to search public records online and find out personal details about a person well beyond what the phone book would have listed in days past. It is harder and harder to keep secrets when the Internet is involved.
Notwithstanding such developing immunity to the shock of a data breach at any particular company, data breaches are very serious events for a company – of any size. In the aftermath, it is not unusual to hear business executives announce that they “never want to go through that again.”
So, what can you do to minimize your company’s risk for data breach? Here are my top five recommendations: Continue reading