You have an amazing, original recipe for chicken wings. You're so excited by your creation that you want to share it with the world while maintaining control of its exposure. Seek a patent. A patent is an intellectual property right, given to an inventor by the government to protect the invention or idea from being made, used or sold by others. With help from an attorney, you can protect that recipe and turn that kitchen secret into a profitable business.
Research current patents of recipes that are related to the one you've concocted. Do this to ensure that someone else hasn't already patented the idea. Search the database at patft.uspto.gov for wing sauce recipes.
Hire a patent attorney. An attorney will help draft a patent by lending his legal expertise to ensure that claims are detailed and accurate before filing. This will help speed the approval process and increase the likelihood of an approval.
File the finished draft with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. The attorney will help with the filing process. You likely will apply for a utility patent, described by the United States Patent and Trademark Office as a patent for a "useful process, machine, article of manufacture, and composition of matter." Decide whether you want international or merely domestic protection of the patent.
Be discreet. If your recipe is still in the scrutinization phase, it has not yet been approved and is still subject to theft. Ask anyone who might work with you in the manufacturing and marketing of the recipe to sign a confidentiality agreement. The agreement will protect from unauthorized distribution of the recipe formula.
- The cost of legal consultation, combined with filing fees, likely will cost at least $1,500 to $2,000.
- Protection lasts for 20 years, at which point the patented information becomes public domain.
- Please be advised that the patent approval process can often be slow and quite costly.
- As an alternative to a costly and time-consuming patenting process, you have the option of keeping your recipe a trade secret. Essentially, this means being secretive about your recipe formula, only letting people working for you know what that formula is on a "need-to-know" basis (and only after they've signed confidentiality agreements).
- Kentucky Fried Chicken and Coca-Cola are two well-known examples of companies who've chosen to protect their recipes by virtue of trade secrets.
- Uncooked Chicken Wings image by Jim Mills from Fotolia.com