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Can you copyright a sandwich?

Can you copyright a sandwich Hopes&Fears flow Food


“Contrary to Colón's protests on appeal, the district court properly determined that a chicken sandwich is not eligible for copyright protection. This makes good sense; neither the recipe nor the name Pechu Sandwich fits any of the eligible categories and, therefore, protection under the Copyright Act is unwarranted. A recipe -- or any instructions -- listing the combination of chicken, lettuce, tomato, cheese, and mayonnaise on a bun to create a sandwich is quite plainly not a copyrightable work.”

In the time between Colón’s invention of the sandwich and his lawsuit, a legal precedent had already been set. A 1996 Seventh Circuit Court, in a case of publishing and republishing recipes, separated the recipe into two parts: functional and expressive. The functional aspect was the list of ingredients and the preparation itself. The expressive aspect was a matter of how creative elements wrapped around the functional elements. 


“There are certain elements of a recipe, flowery language, the language that’s used in the instruction, the introduction to a recipe, that can be copyrighted,” he says by phone from his Las Vegas home. “But the formula… formulas are just not copyrightable by copyright law.” 

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Yeah, I agree that formulas should not be copyrightable.

That's why some companies make them trade secrets instead. 

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