Intellectual Property Rights and the Growing Interest in Legal Protection for Culinary Creations

Nobile M. (eds.), World Food Trends and the Future of Food, Ledizioni, Milano, 2015, 15-32

17 Pages Posted: 19 Mar 2016

See all articles by Jacopo Ciani

Jacopo Ciani

University of Turin - Faculty of Law

Date Written: November 1, 2015

Abstract

The way of looking at food has undergone an impressive development. Originally conceived just as a perfunctory activity it transformed into a competitive, large-revenue, multimedia consumer industry for entertainment and leisure. The emergence of cooking literature, celebrity chefs, competitive cooking tv programs is the evidence that all relate food is today a super-sized business opportunity. This increasing potential for fame and financial reward acts as a great stimulus for young chefs to innovate new dishes and culinary style, conscious that the level of creativity in their menus will likely determine their success. If menu items, original dishes and recipes became a competing weapon, allowing chefs to be preferred by the public, it is a logic consequence for them to attempt invoking intellectual property rights to protect them from pirating and misappropriation by competing restaurateurs. Unfortunately, Courts response to chefs’ demand of protection is most of the times unsatisfactory. Especially in the U.S., but also in the old continent, the case law has shown to be hostile to the copyrightability of recipes. They are considered as instructions for creating an edible product rather than a creative expression of the sort that copyright law is designed to protect. As a consequence food has been described as one of copyright’s negative areas. Some commentators have criticized this trend and suggested the need for changing the copyright law so that chefs own and protect their recipes the same way composers own their music. I share the view that chefs should deserve greater respect as "authors" of their cuisine. Copyright protection should be granted not only to recipes and cookbooks but to the food itself. It is hard not to see how the presentation, arrangement or appearance of dishes, sometimes referred as the "plating technique" is a full creativity exercise worth of copyright protection.

Keywords: copyright, food, dishes, chef, recipes, culinary creations, food creations, work of authorship, creative cuisine, shapes of food, presentation of food, works of art, culinary art, culinary public domain, IP negative space, plating, restaurants, cookbooks, culinary industry

Suggested Citation

Ciani, Jacopo, Intellectual Property Rights and the Growing Interest in Legal Protection for Culinary Creations (November 1, 2015). Nobile M. (eds.), World Food Trends and the Future of Food, Ledizioni, Milano, 2015, 15-32. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2749340

Jacopo Ciani (Contact Author)

University of Turin - Faculty of Law ( email )

Italy

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