Requirements of a Recipe Patent

In order to trademark a recipe, the recipe cannot be obvious. It cannot be a mix of already existing food items. If a consumer can easily identify the ingredients of your product, it is unlikely that it will be eligible for a patent. You may be approved for a patent, however, if you create the recipe with a unique food process.

Because many new recipes simply involve mixing together ingredients that already exist, it is very difficult to get a patent on recipes. For this reason, many restaurants and food companies never even attempt to get a patent on their food products.

A recipe patent requires the following:

  • A detailed description of the shape, ingredients, and overall look of your product.
  • The final product must be non-obvious. This means that it should not be easy to determine the ingredients of the recipe.

Trademarking a Recipe

There is still a way to protect your food recipes. It is possible to trademark a food item if you intend to use it for branding. Although a food trademark does not prevent competitors from using the recipe, it does prevent them from marketing it and calling it by its given name. Anyone that steals the recipe will not be able to call or market it by its trademarked name.

Follow these steps when trademarking a recipe:

  • Come up with a unique name for your recipe. Recipe names that are descriptive and detailed often have a better chance of being approved.
  • Search for existing trademarks. It is necessary to first complete a trademark search with the United States Patent and Trademark Office to identify if any other business has already trademarked the name you are considering.
  • Complete a more thorough search process. Be sure to also search state trademark databases and business listings to determine if a recipe trademark already exists. Not all trademarks will show up in the USPTO trademark database.
  • Submit a trademark application with the USPTO. The filing fee is $275. You can mail in the application or submit it online. Include a description and personal contact information with your application. An additional fee of $400-$500 will be required if the trademark is approved. It can take up to a year to receive a response so it is important to ensure your application includes all of the required documents.

Many businesses that work with food could benefit from using recipe trademarks. Most consumers will come to recognize the item by its name, making it difficult for other companies to attract the same attention.

Trademarks can protect a company's original designs or logos. Trademarking a company logo prevents other businesses from using that logo. Brand recognition is very important to a business's success. Protecting the brand is an important part of creating that brand awareness. If another company attempts to use your trademarked brand, you can take them to court.

Trade Secret

A trade secret is another method of protecting a recipe. However, it is important to keep in mind that trade secrets are not legally binding. Trade secrets are often secret recipe ingredients that are shared with only trusted employees.

Combining Recipe Patents and Trademarks

Recipe patents and trademarks are two different methods used to protect a recipe. Both legally protect a business's unique food product. However, they are different and it is important to consider which one is necessary for your business.

In some cases, it might make sense to apply for both to protect both the product and the business logos. Using both protections, you can trademark the name and logo of the product and then use a patent to protect the unique design or intention of the product.

This provides legal protection in two forms, making it very difficult for a competitor to steal the products of the business. Additionally, both trademarks and patents increase the value of a successful business. Having either could allow you to sell your company for much more.

It is important that businesses that work with food protect their recipes and logos when possible. If you need help with trademark recipes, you can post your legal need on UpCounsel's marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top five percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.