You may register a trademark only for the name of your recipe or the name of the food your recipe is describing. Although trademark protection does not extend to the contents of your recipe, registering a trademark to protect the name of your concoction can prevent others from capitalizing on your market recognition. In order to protect the actual method of preparing your recipe, and any creative expression involved in your recipe, you will need to consider trade secret protection, patent law and copyright law.
Create a distinctive name for your food recipe. In order to obtain trademark protection, a name must be more than merely descriptive or generic. The mark "apple pie" would not be worthy of protection, but a fanciful or distinctive name, such as "Pittsburgh steel house pie," has a much better chance of being granted trademark protection.
Read More: How to Obtain a Trademark
Perform a basic trademark search on the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) website. Determine if any other party has attempted to register a trademark for your recipe name with the federal government.
Perform a more in-depth trademark search by searching the Internet, state trademark databases, phone books, and any other business listings. Many people use a professional trademark-search company to perform this search because not all registered trademarks are accessible through the United States Patent and Trademark Office's search feature. The typical cost of obtaining a professional trademark search is $400 to $500 at the time of publication.
Complete the application for your trademark registration with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. The application may be completed online at the USPTO website. In your application, you must describe the goods your mark describes, the first time your mark was used, and your personal information. You will not be required to complete the design portion of the application unless your recipe name has a specific graphic design that you wish to protect.
Submit your trademark application to the USPTO along with the filing fee. The fee for online filing is $275 as of the date of publication.
Before filing for a trademark, you should consult with a trademark attorney. Trademark filing fees are non-refundable and failure to carry out a proper background search could result in litigation for trademark infringement or denial of your application.
Copyright protection is better suited to protect any creative expression involved in the literary aspects of a recipe such as expression in the form of directions or detailed instructions. Patent protection and trade secret protection are used to protect the actual contents or ingredients of your recipe.
- U.S. Copyright Office: What Does Copyright Protect?
- Saving for Someday: Recipe Copyright
- U.S. Copyright Office: Recipes
- United States Patent and Trademark Office: Trademark FAQs
- United States Patent and Trademark Office: Trademark Basics
- BitLaw: Strength of Trademarks
- YouTube: How to Obtain a Trademark to Protect your Business Name
- The Wall Street Journal: How to Register a Trademark for a Company Name
- Blawgetter: The Coke Recipe, Trademark and Trade Secret Law, and The New York Times
- Basic Patents: What Does It Cost to Obtain a Trademark
- United States Patent and Trademark Office: Trademark Electronic Search System
- United States Patent and Trademark Office: Initial Application Forms
Louis Kroeck started writing professionally under the direction of Andrew Samtoy from the "Cleveland Sandwich Board" in 2006. Kroeck is an attorney out of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania specializing in civil litigation, intellectual property law and entertainment law. He has a B.S from the Pennsylvania State University in information science technology and a J.D. from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio.