Category Archives: Recipes / Formulae

Recipe Ownership: Stolen Trade Secrets, Public Domain or Property of the Chef

The Chicago Tribune reports that a lawsuit filed by Fraiche bakery in Evanston, Illinois against a former chef over a binder containing key recipes was quickly settled.  Fraiche alleged that the recipes were property of the bakery and that the chef improperly took the binder when she left.  The chef, however, told the press that the recipes were not “secrets” and that she obtained them from the public domain (cook books, the Internet, etc.).  She added that she compiled the recipes on her own time and at her own expense and  that its very common for chefs to collect their own recipes.   The bakery owner’s husband, though, called this “a lie” and said his wife changed ingredients or their measurements.  See the entire report here.

This curious episode underscores that recipes are generally not protectable under intellectual property laws and that companies must safeguard such recipes as trade secrets in order to prevent their use by others.