Once Again, You Cannot Copyright The Idea Of Sneaking Veggies Into Kids Food

from the and-what's-the-deal-with-that? dept

Last fall, we wrote about a court ruling that found that Jerry Seinfeld's wife, Jessica Seinfeld, did not infringe on the copyrights of another cookbook author, when she published her cookbook, Deceptively Delicious: Simple Secrets to Get Your Kids Eating Good Food -- all about ways to sneak healthy foods to your kids. She was sued by the woman who had written a similar cookbook, though with a very different style. For some reason, many people just can't get it through their heads that copyright covers the expression, not the idea. Hell, it doesn't even cover recipes (which are just lists of ingredients) unless there's great literary expression in the directions.

Seinfeld's book was apparently totally unlike the other book, and the court made this point clear. So what did the other cookbook author do? She appealed. Thankfully, Dan points us to the news that the appeals court quickly upheld the lower court's ruling, pointing out that there was no copyright infringement in just having a similar idea:
Stockpiling vegetable purees for covert use in children's food is an idea that cannot be copyrighted


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
    identicon
    awd, May 3rd, 2010 @ 8:11am

    You could try patenting a recipe, I suppose... Though there's probably millenia of prior art in this case.

     

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    •  
      icon
      FormerAC (profile), May 3rd, 2010 @ 8:39am

      Re:

      Since when does prior art stop them from granting a patent?

       

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      •  
        icon
        Dark Helmet (profile), May 3rd, 2010 @ 8:50am

        Re: Re:

        Hmm, I thought that the trouble with copyrighting recipes was one of the reasons so many soda/food companies make them trade secrets. That and, I imagine, the need for recipe disclosure....

         

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      ChurchHatesTucker (profile), May 3rd, 2010 @ 11:40am

      Re:

      "You could try patenting a recipe, I suppose... Though there's probably millenia of prior art in this case."

      There's no prior art in that case (at least in the US.)

      Although, once you acknowledge software in patents, what the hell is there to stop you?

      Aaaaaand Patents take another nose-dive in terms of credibility. Not that they care, they have the courts.

       

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 3rd, 2010 @ 8:51am

    copyright, no...but...

    Yea, but in US it sure could have been patented...

     

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    Verve (profile), May 3rd, 2010 @ 8:53am

    the beginnings of streisand effect...

    By suing, this put Jessica Seinfeld's cookbook even MORE on the perverbial consumer map! I'll be putting Mrs. Seinfeld's book on my Amazon wish list!

     

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    vadim (profile), May 3rd, 2010 @ 8:56am

    What about her lawyer?

    Her lawyer surely new that she didn't stand a chance...
    She should attack the lawyer for malpractice :)

     

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      Mike Masnick (profile), May 3rd, 2010 @ 11:59am

      Re: What about her lawyer?

      Her lawyer surely new that she didn't stand a chance...
      She should attack the lawyer for malpractice :)


      Either that or she figured that the lawsuit would get her book a lot of publicity, and assumed this was part of its marketing costs....

       

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      ChurchHatesTucker (profile), May 3rd, 2010 @ 3:46pm

      Re: What about her lawyer?

      "She should attack the lawyer for malpractice :)"

      More people should sue their lawyers.

      Hell, we should start a fund that's exclusively dedicated to financing people suing their lawyers.

      Not that it'd help, but it'd be fun to watch.

       

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  •  
    identicon
    darryl, May 3rd, 2010 @ 10:41am

    Learn to cook...

    " Hell, it doesn't even cover recipes (which are just lists of ingredients)".

    Nice interpretation from someone who clearly has never read a recipe in thier life.

    So if I said
    Sugar
    Milk
    Flour
    Eggs
    Salt
    Oil
    Butter

    that to you is a recipe ??? and your supposed to be someone we are to take as knowing what they are talking about. HA...

     

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      identicon
      Michael, May 3rd, 2010 @ 10:56am

      Re: Learn to cook...

      Actually, the idea of including measurements, steps, cooking times, and temperatures is still scoffed at by top French chefs. Needing these ancillary pieces of information are considered by many great chefs as a sign of a bad chef. A properly trained chef should know the appropriate temperatures and measurements.

       

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        Cameron Standal, May 3rd, 2010 @ 12:07pm

        Re: Re: Learn to cook...

        You don't honestly believe that, do you? I've heard chefs spin some wonderful lines to rubes in the past but that is genuinely special. Next you'll say that they have "la repertoire" coded into their mitochondria and no need for recipes.

         

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        zegota (profile), May 3rd, 2010 @ 12:09pm

        Re: Re: Learn to cook...

        Um, I would say the vast majority of people who cook are not "top French chefs." Yes, someone who has made 10,000 different cakes can probably assemble one with just a list of ingredients, the same way a master carpenter could make a desk from a list that just says "wood." The rest of us are happy for the additional instructions, thanks.

         

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      ChurchHatesTucker (profile), May 3rd, 2010 @ 4:53pm

      Re: Learn to cook...

      "that to you is a recipe ???"

      No, that's a list of ingredients.

      I don't think you quite understand what a recipe is.

       

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    Rikuo (profile), May 3rd, 2010 @ 11:10am

    @Michael

    Two words to you, Michael.
    Frogs.
    Snails.

    And no, I'm not a racist, my best friend is French.

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Alain Saffel, May 3rd, 2010 @ 11:53am

    copyright

    Imagine if they could copyright the idea of sneaking vegetables into kids' food and you had to pay a royalty every time you did it.

    Maybe you could cover yourself by speaking a Latin disclaimer to your child, indicating you're placing vegetables in their food that may not be immediately visible.

    Or, have the child sign a disclaimer stating they are aware of the presence of vegetables in their food, even though they can't see them. Who reads those things anyway?

     

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    Tom Landry (profile), May 3rd, 2010 @ 1:47pm

    I'm 48

    back in the late 60's I remember my Mom bought a product called "I hate Carrots" & "I hate Peas". The products were essentially French Fries impregnated with the puree of one of the aforementioned veggies. Needless to say they sucked but it goes to show the idea has been around for quite awhile.

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 3rd, 2010 @ 1:55pm

    A recipe, as it's generally understood, is a list of ingredients along with the quantities and steps necessary to produce a specific food article. Not that it makes any difference. Even with quantities and steps (the actual steps, rather than their description), you still cannot copyright a recipe.

     

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    Spanky, May 3rd, 2010 @ 5:05pm

    re

    "For some reason, many people just can't get it through their heads that copyright covers the expression, not the idea."

    In baseball, when you're down a run in the ninth, you send the runner from third.

    Even on a shallow fly ball.

    Because you just never know what might happen.

     

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    identicon
    darryl, May 3rd, 2010 @ 6:37pm

    Recipe same as software (or hardware)

    I still amazed that someone who claims to have such a great grasp of these issues would make totally inaccurate statements that any reader will quickly see right through.

    "A recipe is just a list of ingredients".

    Well, then, by youre logic a computer program would be "just a list of computer instructions".

    How you put them instructions together should be obvious to you ???

    So if you get a list of computer instructions, (or CPU instruction set) from that you would be able to work out the combination and arraingement of those instructions to create youre meal... wrong..

    A recipe is just the food industries name for a 'design blueprint', a computer program is a recipe of computer instructions to achieve a specific result.

    Steel industry use recipes to manufacture the different kinds and grades of steel.

    Coke have a recipe for that refreshing black fuzzy drink, that would be worth billions.

    Intel and AMD (and others) all have recipes to manufacture integrated circuites like CPU's. They are certainly not 'just lists of ingredience'.

    They are highly prized IP, and can and often do contain patents and copyright.

    A patent is a recipe or method explaining how to achieve a specific result.

    Why should some people have laws protecting their invention from theft and some have not simply based on the industry you work in ?

    Thats why fighting patents and copyright is a losing fight.

    (big easy target to score easy cred points for you fans I guess)..

    But the law's are not going to change to make it ok for you to determine who has specific rights and who does not (thankfully)...

     

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      Mike Masnick (profile), May 4th, 2010 @ 12:24am

      Re: Recipe same as software (or hardware)

      I still amazed that someone who claims to have such a great grasp of these issues would make totally inaccurate statements that any reader will quickly see right through.

      Followed up by a long rant by Darryl about how we're wrong to claim a recipe cannot be copyrighted. Perhaps Darryl should follow the link that was included in the post on "recipes." It's to the US Copyright Office:

      http://www.copyright.gov/fls/fl122.html

      Which says:

      "Mere listings of ingredients as in recipes, formulas, compounds, or prescriptions are not subject to copyright protection."

      You can apologize now. Or will you disappear?

       

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      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, May 4th, 2010 @ 7:15am

      Re: Recipe same as software (or hardware)

      A recipe is more like an algorithm than a computer program. A recipe as it appears in a cookbook might have enough original expressive elements to qualify for copyright protection (the same way an algorithm expressed in code might qualify), but the recipe itself, like the algorithm, would not.

       

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  •  
    identicon
    Darryl, May 4th, 2010 @ 4:35pm

    No, I wont apoligize, no reason to

    I stated that it's clear you have little understanding of what a recipe is. I dont care if they can be patented, copyrighted, or whatever.

    That makes no difference, I was just commenting on youre spin on the subject and youre use of 'selective reporting'.

    Youre constant making of claims that are clearly wrong and misleading to allow you to try to get your own unique brand of FUD.

    Trouble is I assume most of the people you are posting too here, have an IQ somewhat higher that 15 as you seem to assume.

    So I wont disappear or apologize, I have no need too, how about you apoligize for posting clearly misleading posts.

    Which even a child can see for what it is, an attempt of FUD.

    And yes, a recipe is just a name, it could be called a method, project plan, instruction list, computer program.

    And I dont see why you would not be able to copyright a recipe book, just like any other book.

    Again, with trying to find loopholes to support your somewhat weak arguments.

    Thanks,

     

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