I owned a successful business, we are now closed. Things happened not related to my products and we lost the business. Our P&L statements show that we were successful. My branding/logo is known statewide and we were starting to be known nation wide. If I understand what I have read correctly my recipes are my intellectual property.
Your recipes are certainly your intellectual property and quite possibly could be protected under "trade secret" law as well (e.g., the famous recipe for Coca-Cola).
As far as your branding/logo are concerned, this is protected under Trademark law. To this end, you mention that you lost your business. Did you sign any documents? Did you convey any rights in your brand away? If not, you may still have a marketable brand you could license to someone with a clever contract (and in doing so leverage the recipes in the same contract, for "quality control" if you so desire).
As far as the recipes themselves go, I'd use these as leverage if you're fully intending to license away your brand and product. Have folks sign non-disclosure agreements, and protect them as best you can as a trade secret. Patent protection is fairly slim in this area, so I imagine that's a far-fetched idea, but it could happen.
Practically speaking, I'm not sure we have all the facts to properly advise you based on this short paragraph. However, I do hope the best for you and want you to consult an attorney (a lot of us do this kind of thing for free) so that you can share what you ought to in order to properly protect your IP. Competent counsel can probably also evaluate the situation and have an idea as to how much leverage you may have (as you mention state-wide recognition) and advise you as to how to move forward.
Best of luck!
Answers provided by Mr. Robinson are for informational and educational purposes only and by no means constitute legal advice or counseling of any kind.
YOu might consider writing a cookbook. A cookbook is more protectible than individual recipes. Recipes are difficult to protect. Recipes that are worth protecting are carefully guarded as trade secrets. Regarding your logos and branding, under trademark law, if you do not use it, you lose it, so you need to keep some cooking products going or you will lose your rights.
The recipes in themselves are not formally protectable. Because they are facts (1 part X, 2 parts Y) they are not afforded copyright protection. Now to be clear, a recipe book is covered under copyright because of the way in which those recipes are expressed (e.g., the order in which they are laid out, any anecdotal references that color the recipes, etc.). Only if the recipe produces some unexpected result like it extends the shelf life of the product would a patent be relevant. Your trademark and logo of course are protectable.
So the way you treat recipes typically is through a trade secret program. This includes things like properly drafted NDA/Non-Use/NNN agreements with everyone that is privy to the recipe among other security protocols. If done correctly the courts will afford the recipes a higher degree of protection.
I suggest that you consult with a lawyer in private and discuss your objectives in more detail. You can start by calling around to several for a free phone consultation, get some insights then pick the best fit to work with.
DISCLAIMER: this is not intended to be specific legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. No attorney-client relationship is formed with the law firm of Natoli-Lapin, LLC on the basis of this posting.
If you don't use your logo/branding you will lose your trademark rights. Your recipes are assets, if they were maintained by your business as trade secrets. I suggest that you speak with an experienced Trademark/IP attorney about selling/ transferring your brand/Logo recipes and the goodwill of your business to another similar company. Don't delay, since the longer you wait the less your brand and goodwill is worth.
For more detailed advice, I recommend that you contact an experienced Trademark/IP attorney to advise you in confidence about your options and potential costs. Many IP specialty firms, like ours, offer an initial free conference by telephone, video conference or in person if you are available locally and would be happy to speak with you. Call and speak with an experienced Trademark attorney who can assist you.
Mr. Sack's postings on Avvo are of a general nature, based on the facts provided and are not intended to be taken as legal advice or to establish an attorney-client relationship.
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