Copyright Infringement Lawsuit Over Turkey Cooking Instructions
from the eat-up dept
Thanksgiving may be over, but right before the holiday, Greenberg Smoked Turkeys (which, as you might guess, sells turkeys) sued competitor Goode-Cook for copyright infringement, claiming that the following bit of turkey care instructions violated its copyright:
Our turkeys arrive at your door ready to eat. Refrigerate immediately. The turkey will keep in the refrigerator for 6-8 days. If you do not plan to use it in that length of time, it should be frozen.
We recommend that our turkeys are eaten chilled or at room temperature — just slice and enjoy!
If heating is required, follow these instructions: place turkey in a Reynolds® Oven Bag, which can be bought at your local grocer. Do not add flour to the bag. Cut 6 to 7 small slits in the top of the bag. Heat at 300 degrees for 6 minutes per pound.
What’s unclear from the complaint (which we’ve included after the jump) is whether or not Greenberg actually registered the copyright on this. If it did not, it would greatly limit the likelihood of this lawsuit getting anywhere. It’s also not clear if Goode-Cook copied the whole thing or part of it, as the “exhibit” is not included. It actually took a bit of searching, but I think I found the actual website for Goode, and I don’t see those instruction anywhere (in fact, there’s an entirely different set of instructions), but it’s possible that the originals were taken down following the lawsuit.
Of course, the bigger question is whether or not the text above is actually copyrightable. As has been discussed numerous times, you can’t copyright a recipe, but might be able to protect “substantial literary expression in the form of an explanation or directions.” The question is whether the statements above qualify as “substantial literary expression,” beyond just the basic factual description. There might be a few parts where it strays into such territory, but it seems like a very thin amount of copyright coverage there. Furthermore, is there really any argument that the use of this text in any way harms Greenberg? That seems like an even bigger stretch. This seems like a lawsuit based on anger rather than a legitimate copyright claim.