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Topic: Dumb question... Sell food from someone else's recipe?  (Read 9496 times)
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« on: May 02, 2010 02:55:02 PM »

I'm sorry if this has been asked/answered before. I did a search of topics/content and found nothing that matched (but my query-string may have been too specific).

Is it OK to make food from someone else's published recipe and then sell it?

I presume it's OK for times like charity bake sales, but I'm talking opening a small cafe/catering company and selling food that someone else has designed the "pattern" for.

Is it legal? (Can you show me any links/references to back this up?)

I'd -hate- to tread on someone's toes/steal their intellectual property for profit! Sad

Your thoughts and comments on this would be -greatly- appreciated even if it's opinion/anecdotal rather than cold, hard fact!

« Reply #1 on: May 03, 2010 05:01:32 PM »

My personal opinion on this is that cooking is just as much of an art form as any other craft (sewing, painting, etc...) out there. Someone put time into creating, developing and testing their recipes and I don't see someone selling their hard work for profit any differently than if someone knit up a sweater using someone Else's pattern. Also- I feel it's very important to support small business, especially in creative fields and I would be much more likely to do this if I knew I was buying and tasting your personal take on things and not something from Martha Stewarts cookie book (which I am not at all knocking. Love!). When I wear a hand knit scarf I think of the crafters hands forming each of those stitches just for me and I feel the same way about an artisinal cupcake. The selection of ingredients, the stirring and tasting... Perhaps I am romanticising it too much. Do I make any sense? As I said, this is just my personal opinion. I am all for sharing, it's how we learn. But I would be very disappointed if I went to my favorite restaurant only to find out that my entree was straight out of The Joy of Cooking. If you have a passion for cooking, experiment. Hit up your local markets. If you have to use some basic recipes as jumping off points, so be it.  I have no idea about the legal aspect of this type of situation. It is a tricky one and much to my mother's disappointment, I am not a lawyer. I apologize for my bloviation. I hope my opinion can at least provide some insight as to how a potential customer would feel.  Good luck with your business venture!

« Reply #2 on: May 03, 2010 06:35:11 PM »

I would personally say yes its ok, but I know you asked for references and I don't have one because it's my personal opinion.  Even if you use someone else's recipe, there is some skill involved- which you provide.  On the other hand, if you're worried about being legal (on a totally different angle) you need to check the local laws in your area.  For example in my area I cannot sell items at a farmer's market that I made in my own kitchen.  I have to use a designated food prep kitchen.  Plus have all sorts of certificates etc.
« Reply #3 on: May 07, 2010 06:35:46 PM »

I think to be safe you should probably ask a lawyer that has knowledge in business law ect. for your area. Most lawyers will do a free consultation or if you call one will be willing to answer a quick question or two like this at no charge.

Personally I can see both sides, someone put the work into creating the recipe but you put in the work to bring it to life. I think it's a big gray area for sure.
« Reply #4 on: August 01, 2010 01:00:09 PM »

I think you should be just fine selling food that you made from someone else's recipe. The recipe itself isn't copyrightable--just the literary expression of it. Here's the law: www.copyright.gov/fls/fl122.html
« Last Edit: August 01, 2010 01:07:41 PM by LisaEpiphany » THIS ROCKS   Logged
« Reply #5 on: August 02, 2010 05:10:02 AM »

My Mom is a published recipe author. The laws might have changed but I know that people used to ask my Mom if they could sale her recipes at craft sales, etc... She would submit the proper paperwork.

If a restaurant claimed a recipe that was my Mom's and not give her the proper credit she would sue them. My parent's were foodies so this actually happened a few times.

My Mom is so protective of her recipes that I am only allowed to post two online. I am her own daughter.


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« Reply #6 on: August 02, 2010 04:15:00 PM »

Honestly, whether or not it's legally okay, morally I think it's kind of wrong- someone has dedicated a lot of time to develop those recipes, and just straight up selling the byproduct is kind of like cheating.

If you're going to use those recipes, why not adapt them and tweak them a bit to make it your own?

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