Inferior Good: Diminishing Marginal Stupidity in Action

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Intellectual property rights and food

This post at tastingmenu got my gears turning. The post discusses whether or not it’s ethical for a chef to copy recipes created by another chef. I wonder, are there any legal issues involved? Is it possible to assert intellectual property rights on the construction of a dish? I’m not talking about trademarking the name of a dish, but the actual makeup of a dish.

I’m assuming there is no legal framework in which to do this. Otherwise, wouldn’t there be disclaimers on cookbooks warning that use of the enclosed recipes is exclusively for your non-profit use? Wouldn’t I have heard about restaurants paying royalties to famous chefs across the world?

If there is no copyright system for food, why isn't there? Why aren't intellectual property rights for food protected, whilst those for music, literature and film are? Would a system of food copyrights increase or decrease culinary innovation?

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