Do Recipes Get Copyright Protection?


There’s no doubt that many chefs are creative people, but are their culinary creations entitled to copyright protection? Copyright law does not protect recipes that are mere listings of ingredients, nor does it protect other listings of ingredients such as those found in formulas, compounds, or prescriptions. Copyright protection may, however, extend to substantial literary expression — a description, explanation, or illustration, for example —that accompanies a recipe or formula or to a combination of recipes, as in a cookbook. The reason ingredients lists are not protected is because they’re simply a statement of fact. Let’s say you write a recipe in poem form. That may be protected, but the actual ingredients, measurements, and cooking process would not be.