How To Patent A Sauce

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Determine If Your Recipe Is Novel And Nonobvious

Yellowing White Patent Leather versus Sauce (How to restore it)

The biggest hurdle for most chefs and other recipe creators who want to patent their recipes is proving that their creations are novel and nonobvious. You cannot patent a recipe for a food item that is already available. To obtain a patent for a recipe, you also need to demonstrate the combination of ingredients or the method of combining them produced a result that would not otherwise be obvious. Most individual recipe creators find it difficult, if not impossible, to meet this burden.

Conduct a search of previous patent disclosures. A patent attorney or professional search firm can help you with this process, or you can access resources for patent searching available through the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office website. If someone else previously disclosed your recipe, you cannot patent it.

Understand What Makes Something Patentable

Its important to understand what makes something patentable. According to Section 35 USC § 101, anyone who discovers or invents a useful or new machine, process, composition of matter, or manufacture can obtain a patent.

Recipes can often meet that definition since they are generally useful, involve a matter of composition and can involve a new technique or process especially as new kitchen gadgets are invented. So, its important to keep an open mind when determining whether your recipe is patentable. It just may be!

Your Recipe Must Be Useful

Although most inventions are not challenged on the grounds they are not useful, we had to let you know that it is a requirement. Useful simply means that your recipe must provide some identifiable benefit and is capable of being used. So as long as you have a recipe that works, youve met this requirement.

We do have to point out that the description of your patent should explain how your recipe can be used. The chances of the patent office rejecting your recipe patent on the grounds that it is not useful is extremely rare, but you should describe how its useful to satisfy this requirement.

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Cooking Up Intellectual Property Protection

When a person creates a recipe from scratch that tastes wonderful, it is no wonder that they would be inclined for protect that recipe. A delicious new food or sauce can be really profitable as others pine for a taste of the scrumptious creation. With the ability to monetize a new recipe, protecting the intellectual property behind the recipe can be critical, especially if a business is built around it. What types of intellectual property protections are available for recipes?

Protecting A Recipe With A Patent

Recipes are patentable subject matter under 35 USC 101 as a new composition of matter, or as a new process. And a new recipe can certainly be novel under 35 USC 102 if it is novel. However, recipes as non-obvious patentable inventions are a hard-sell to patent examiners.

In the traditional sense, most recipes are simply a list of ingredients and instructions on how to combine those ingredients to arrive at the final product, dish, food or sauce. Recipes are often rejected by the patent office as obvious because there are many known recipes for any number of food items or sauces, and merely swapping out one ingredient for another is often considered by examiners to be obvious to a person having ordinary skill in the art.

Protecting a Recipe As A Trade Secret

The recipe for Coca-Cola.

The herbs and spices recipe used by KFC.

The recipe for Mrs. Fields Chocolate Chip Cookies

The formulation for WD-40 lubricant spray.

The recipe for Listerine.

How To Apply For A Patent For A Recipe

Kikkoman Dipping Sauce Sweet &  Sour 12 oz (Pack of 12 ...

Under certain circumstances, you can obtain patents for recipes. Patent law says inventors can patent “any new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof” However, most recipes fail to meet the additional required tests for patentability, namely that they are “novel” and “nonobvious” creations. These steps can help you determine if your recipe is patentable and, if it is, submit your patent application.

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Breaking Into The Homemade Hot Sauce Business

Many hot sauces begin as a homemade concoction, which grows into a legend among friends and family and eventually develops into a business that one hopes is lucrative. Maybe you run a restaurant, have a sauce that your customers crave, and decide to take the plunge and bottle it, to sell at the restaurant or to a wider audience. Or maybe you are a hot sauce collector, have tasted hundreds of sauces, and think you could make one thats better. Perhaps youre a computer programmer by day and an amateur sauce maker by night, you have been dreaming up culinary concoctions and think youve stumbled upon a great formula. Whatever your pathway to getting sauced, the first step is to come up with a recipe. There are several aspects to consider.

As you develop recipes, think about cost. I once came up with an awesome recipe for ginger-fig chutney, which I still adore I make it every fall to give away as gifts. People love it. However, the price of the ingredients made the chutney prohibitive to bring to market. Plus, I could get fresh figs only in the fall. When tested using ground ginger, it wasnt good, and dried figs didnt work either. So the recipe died on the vine. If you make a sauce at home, say, with fresh artichokes, consider that youll want fresh artichokes when you bottle it, too.

Wait For Your Application To Be Approved Or Rejected

Once your patent is approved, the patent office will contact you, youll pay a publication and issue fee and then your patent will be granted. If your patent application is rejected, you will have the opportunity to appeal that decision or make amendments suggested by the patent office. Then, you can resubmit your patent application for a second review.

If your patent application is rejected, but you still want to protect your recipe, consider declaring it a trade secret. Anyone who knows the secret will be required to sign a non-disclosure agreement so that the recipe will not be disclosed.

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Why Are Pasta Sauces Non

Posted on July 17, 2010 by J.S.

Most people think patent laws are a good idea. In fact, most people view patent laws as a crucial part of a modern society.

Without patent laws, they say, there would be no incentive to produce anything new. We would be stuck with a handful of old ideas, and progress in all areas of creativity would quickly grind into a halt.

The argument is that patent laws are there to make sure invention is profitable. If someone spends months or years on something that will benefit others, then the inventor should also be entitled to benefit from it. The solution? Make laws that prohibit others from profiting from the invention without the original inventors permission.

Not everything is patentable, however. For something to be patentable, most countries patent law requires that it has to fulfill at least three criteria.

First, it must be novel. That is, at least some aspect of the invention must be new. Second, it must be non-obvious. Its not enough that the invention is new, it also has to include something that someone couldnt have just arrived by chance. Third, it must be useful.

Food recipes are patentable, as long as they fulfill the above criteria. For example, a pizza crust with an extra crunchy texture made with a novel cooking process could probably be patented.

Your Italian grandmothers secret recipe for pasta sauce could not, however.

Indeed, we have an abundance of them because most recipes cannot be patented.

Fill Out The Application

Secret Sauce for Patent Prosecution

If you think your recipe qualifies for a patent, you can apply by mail or by using the Electronic Filing System on the USPTO website. Because there is an additional fee for applications submitted by mail, most patent applicants choose to apply online. Register for the website by creating a user account if you do not already have one.

There are three types of patents: utility, design, and plant patents. Most patents, including those for recipes, fall under the utility patent category. You also need to determine whether you want to file a provisional patent or instead apply right away for a nonprovisional patent. You do not submit an oath or declaration with a provisional patent application, but the application allows you to use the phrase “patent pending.” After filing a provisional application for a patent, you have 12 months to complete a nonprovisional application to patent your recipe.

The EFS walks applicants through the process. Be sure your application meets minimum requirements and that you include a Utility Patent Application Transmittal .

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How Do I Patent A Recipe

What is the most effective method to patent a recipe? Thats the question you should ask if you have an innovative recipe on your hands. Keep in mind that your recipe must be non-obvious, novel, and useful in order to be patented.

Chefs and household cooks have been creating wonderful recipes for ages, so finding something new or novel might seem to be a daunting task. However, you just might have something which is new or novel and a recipe patent could be an option. If those qualifications are not met and a patent cannot be obtained, its important to understand that there may be other legal protections which you can utilize in order to claim that recipe as yours alone, such as trade secrets, which are discussed below.

Famous Trade Secrets And Why They Work

It might seem impossible to keep a secret recipe under wraps for long, but plenty of big businesses do it successfully for decades. Some notable food and drink examples are the secret recipes for Coca-Cola and Dr. Pepper, KFC’s secret chicken seasoning of 11 herbs and spices, Chick-fil-A sauce, and Bush’s Baked Beans. Now, you might think, “Are those really still a secret?” After all, if you do a quick online search, you’ll find that home cooks all over the country have published what they promise are copycat recipes for any of those famous trade secrets. In fact, if you try some of those knockoff recipes, you’ll find the taste is nearly identical to the name-brand secret recipe, yet the big brands are still around and thriving why?

Brands that rely on trade secrets typically have trademarks and brand recognition. By branding their products, like Coca-Cola or KFC, they create loyalty around the brand. When that loyalty is compounded by the idea of a “secret recipe,” it leaves people turning to the tried-and-true brand rather than knockoffs.

After all, as long as KFC refuses to publish its secret recipe, at least some people will always wonder if the copycat recipes got it right. So basically, even if someone has figured out the secret recipe to Bush’s Baked Beans or Chick-fil-A sauce, it doesn’t really matter because of the power of trademarking combined with a trade secret.

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I Want To Trademark My Family Bbq Sauce What Are The Steps

To trademark the name, before you begin using it and purchasing bottles, labels and such you should consult with a trademark lawyer. The first thing we usually do is conduct a proper clearance search to ensure that the name and logo you want to use are available for registration. Once that is done, you can have a discussion with your attorney about whether to file a pre-use application or if it would be appropriate to move forward with selling your product under that name and file a standard application. Most trademark matters are best discussed in a consultation because they are so fact specific.

No attorney client relationship is formed with Gross Law Group by use of this public forum. For specific advice contact an attorney for a private consultation. Full disclaimer available at

Can You Patent A Recipe

Ketchup tomato sauce patent pending

The short answer is yes, patent protection can extend to a food or beverage, but don’t get too excited yet. While it is possible to patent foods and trademark product names, the constraints are very narrow, and don’t apply to the types of foods and beverages sold in most independent restaurants and stores.

A recipe may be successfully patented only if it meets several criteria. First, the recipe in question must be novel. That means it cannot be a food item previously familiar to the public or an obvious combination of pre-existing food items. For example, if you combine brownies with chocolate chip cookies and mix them with coffee ice cream for a flavor called coffee brownie chip, you’ll have a tough time getting that recipe patented. The reason is, even if no one else has sold that exact combination before, the notion of combining candy and cookies into ice cream is well-trodden territory therefore, it’s not a novel product. If a fellow chef only has to taste your recipe to discern what’s in it and how it was made, that’s a surefire sign your recipe isn’t novel enough for a patent.

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Is It Illegal To Steal A Recipe Drink Idea Or Promotion

If you’re pretty sure you’ve cracked the secret ingredient in your competitor’s hot wing sauce or figured out how to make a replica of your local bar’s mango margaritas, nothing is stopping you from making and selling the same product. Likewise, you can compete with local businesses by positioning competing promotions on the same days your competitors offer promotions. However, be careful about the language used in your advertising, and consider the potential unintended side effects of running a copycat business.

Since a name can be trademarked much easier than a recipe, you should err on the side of caution and avoid calling your wings by the exact same name as the restaurant down the street. Chains are particularly notorious for trademarking foods and beverages, but small businesses can do it too.

Offering promotions to compete with local businesses is a good idea, but you may be better off thinking of your own promotion ideas rather than copying other restaurants and bars.

Even though promotions themselves aren’t legally protected, being perceived as behind the curve and lacking your own unique marketing ideas may give you a poor reputation in the local business community.

How To Sell Your Product

Okay, youve got the sauce, the bottle, and the label . . . now what do you do?

Offer free samples to buyers for stores and online companies. Buyers generally welcome samples. Include with your sample a product sheet with basic facts as well as any supporting evidence, such as whether youve won awards, what makes your product unique, and whether you have any endorsements by someone other than your mother, preferably someone who is well known . Give them a few weeks to respond before you follow up with a call.

If a buyer rejects you, benefit from the criticism. Try not to be offended instead, listen carefully. Buyers will usually tell you what they liked or disliked, be it the flavor, packaging, or price. They may leave the door open to having you resubmit products later.

Offer to host free tastings at health food stores, gourmet shops, and grocery stores. Include a recipe sheet for customers, and make sure that the recipes really work and taste good check carefully for typos you dont want to mistakenly type 1/4 cup of salt when you intended 1/4 teaspoon.

Try to get nontraditional outlets, like bookstores, bars, or restaurants, to carry your sauce. Is your sauce regional? If so, consider approaching buyers in airport gift stores or souvenir shops. I once made a maple syrup and persuaded two New England museums to carry it in their shops. Sell the sauce at farmers markets, craft fairs, or wherever theyll let you hawk your wares.

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The Growing Hot Sauce Business

The hot sauce world has come a long way since 1990, when Chile Pepper magazine was the primary source of information. There are still niche markets the macho group that plays upon a cowboy theme of taking the pain or the pornographic labels but overall the hot sauce market has passed from an eccentric fad to a mainstream product because of Americas increased desire for local, healthy, tasty, interesting food, not to mention the fact that Hispanic and Latino Americans have accounted for more than half of the U.S. population growth in the last decade. Twenty years ago youd find Mexican restaurants in cities and, if you were lucky, college towns. Today youll find Mexican restaurants in most small towns, and often Vietnamese and Indian restaurants as well.

Your Recipe Must Be Nonobvious


To patent your recipe, you will have to show the patent office that your recipe was not obvious at the time you file your patent application. Said differently, if your recipe is obvious, such as if you were adding more strawberries to strawberry cheesecake, the patent examiner will say that it could have been thought of by anyone and therefore he will not grant your patent application.

When making the determination of whether a recipe is nonobvious, the recipe is examined by using a standard of an ordinary person in the field of the invention. For recipes, this is a skilled cook having ordinary skills in the field of the recipe. Adding one ingredient, such as cinnamon to cheesecake is usually never enough to make a recipe nonobvious because a cook preparing our hypothetical cheesecake could have easily thought of it.

The same goes for adding more sugar to cake to make it sweeter. Its unlikely that the patent examiner would grant a patent based on this because its obvious to a skilled cook that adding more sugar makes a cake sweeter.

Your recipe has to have something unexpected added to it. The more different ingredients you add, the more likely youll be able to patent your recipe because it makes it less obvious to a skilled cook.

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