Media Law Prof Blog

Editor: Christine A. Corcos
Louisiana State Univ.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Ciani On IP Rights and the Growing Interest In Legal Protection For Culinary Creations

Jacopo Ciani, University of Milan, Faculty of Law, Private Law and History of Law Department, has published Intellectual Property Rights and the Growing Interest in Legal Protection for Culinary Creations in World Food Trends and the Future of Food 15-32 (M. Nobile ed., Ledizioni, Milano, 2015). Here is the 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.

Download the article from SSRN at the link.

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