Court Rules that Recipes are not Copyrightable

Rosemarie Carroll and Larry Moore previously co-ran two casual restaurants in Cleveland.  In 2007, Carroll purchase Moore’s interest in the restaurants in an agreement which included confidential information related to the restaurants.

Later, In 2011, Larry Moore, who had sold his interest to Rosemarie Carroll, opened a new restaurant with someone else.  Carroll believed that Moore and his new partner were copying her recipes and sued them for copyright and trade secret infringement, as well of beach of contract.

In a January 29 judgment, however, the US District Court ruled that copyright cannot protect recipes.  The court cited preparation of food as a statement of facts without an expressive element deserving of copyright protection.  So, although the layout of a recipe book may be protectable, the functional directions in recipes are not.