The food industries are one of the crucial sectors when it comes to dealing with the world’s economy. Over 10 % of the total employment is dependent on the food sector. There are so many brands that stand firm with their unique products, taste, innovative packaging ideas, and different marketing strategies. The real challenge is such unique ideas can be copied by others to start trading in the same product. Yet, you cannot file any complaint or report against such unscrupulous practice unless you have any documentation or proof for the protection of its intellectual property rights. In the end, you may end up losing your product for which you struggled to build for many years.
IPR laws Contribute to the Enrichment of society through the availability of new and useful goods, services, and technical information.
- Encourages innovation and creativity.
- Boost Innovation.
It is pertinent to protect the intellectual property rights of a Food-Based Businesses provides a legal means by which the owner is offered control for the usage and exploitation of that IP, for example
- Prevents copying or unauthorized usage, or usage without licensing.
- IP rights form a bedrock for most global brands; it gives them brand security from imitators and competitors.
What types of protection IPR laws offer for a food recipe?
IP protection for the food industry will include Trademark protection, Design Protection, Patent Rights protection, and trade secrets. Various major food brands, as well as the smaller food shops & minor food manufacturers, also own the trademarks to protect their food products from being copied by their competitors.
Trademark is not generally limited to only pre-packaged foods. Various food & Desert names of other food items can have its name trademarked, for Example, Subway’s ‘Sub burger.’ The chef and the restaurant or the brand can be covered under the trademark law. Trademark plays an essential role in the branding strategy of the company.
The consumer could identify the food products designing its exclusive logo, word, design, or slogan and protect it by trademarking that specific element in the registry. The creatively distinct design being trademarked will help you protect it easily. Coca Cola, Kit Kat, KFC, Subway, and Wangs Kitchen are some of the big brands having a distinct trademark. You can also offer other vendors your trademarks and trade secrets to make a franchise deal with them, and this will improve your business big time.
Can Food Recipes be patented?
Patents are generally granted for any new and useful process, invention, the machine, manufacturing process, the composition of matter which is being inserted into the product, or any new and useful improvement which even professionals at that specific domain, label as innovative.
The following are the checklist to ascertain if your food recipe can be patented or not:
- Is your recipe a patentable subject matter?
- Is your recipe useful, or is it fixing any cookery problem?
- Is your recipe a novel or new?
- Is your recipe non-obvious even to the skilled person in the same domain?
New and innovative Food composition, types of machinery, and food processes are allowed to be patented under the Patent laws. Food processes for making the product includes one or more methods like:
- Heating process in a particular temperature range.
- Frying, sauteing, poaching, baking.
- Canning, bottling, blanching, aging separating, grinding, stirring, whipping.
- Mixing, chilling, freezing, melting, dehydrating.
- Cutting, soaking, stamping, layering, raging process, molding, grilling, and smoking.
Ingredients of a Strong Recipe Patent
Patent claims must include essential details like the proportion range, the temperature at which the food must be prepared, and the vital ingredients for making the food. For example, patent claims relate to a chocolate food product, which should include the crystallization phase at a temperature range and the like. Food recipes are allowed to be patented in India; But, for it to be patented, the food recipe should be more than a mere admixture of a well-known ingredient.
Can the packaging of my food product be protected?
Design protection could also be another way to protect your IP. The design could be copied easily. So by registering the design is the best way to protect your product. For example, Coca Cola had designed their bottle with a uniquely copyrighted design that no one else could copy or use. The packaging of food products is one of the most vital factors in the food industry. With an innovative concept of packaging, a company frames its branding strategies with such attractive designs, and this helps them to grow in the market. If such the packaging ideas got stolen, then anyone could imitate your product, which could lead to great losses. By copyrighting such a packaging and product design, you will avail of the IP protection for your branding design.
What if I don’t want my food product to be unduplicatable?
Let’s say that you might have tried a recipe for your favorite food by a well-known brand. After multiple attempts of cooking with the guidance of some food hack channel on YouTube or any cookery book, you will still not be able to get the same taste or structure of the food as the branded food product could. Here the protection of IP, which means Intellectual Property works at its very best. Every company has its trade secrets like ingredients or their process of preparation, etc. And while working with a third party or franchise, companies tend to sign a contract while sharing their secret and making the third party sign a nondisclosure contract as well.
An Idea is being a secret as long as it is in your mind. But once you disclose it to the public, it never remains yours, unless and until you get the legal protection by law. So, registering the intellectual property rights of your business IP is the most important thing in an era of a large competitive market.