Wednesday 26 February 2014

Copyright Protection of Culinary Creations

Two very interesting posts in the IPKat (one by Alberto Bellan here and one by Annsley Merelle Ward here) address the interesting question of copyright protection of culinary creations.

While the copyright protection of recipes in their written form has been the issue of the BGH decision "Marions Kochbuch", the recent decision "Geburtstagszug" might open a way for a copyright protection of the particular aesthetic presentation of food on the plate. 

When doing some search on the history of patent law for a lecture last year, I was surprised that the protection of the creation of cooks might indeed have been the first known monopoly rights for intellectual property in history.

Sybaris, a Greek colony in southern Italy that existed from 720 to 510 B.C., was supposedly known for a luxurious and decadent lifestyle. Quoting from the historian Phylarcus, the Greek writer Athenaeus states:

The Sybarites, having given loose to their luxury, made a law that . . . if any confectioner or cook invented any peculiar and excellent dish, no other artist was allowed to make this for a year; but he alone who invented it was entitled to all the profits to be derived from the manufacture of it for that time; in order that others might be induced to labour at excelling in such pursuits.

(Quoted from "The Law of Patents" by Craig Allen Nard)

Supposing that the legislators grant monopoly rights for intellectual property for the purpose of inciting developments which promote the general prosperity of their people, I think it is very interesting that the focus has shifted from culinary innovations in a luxury society in ancient Greece to technical innovations in the Renaissance era until today. This shows how the way of thinking and the valuation of good food has changed.

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