Pizza Shop Sues Former Employee For 'Stealing' Recipe

from the can't-own-a-recipe dept

Reader Brian points us to a story where his hometown pizza shop is apparently suing a former employee, claiming he "stole" their family recipes, and used them to open a competing pizza place 20 miles away. We've seen some similar disputes in the past, but have pointed out how the very lack of the ability to use intellectual property to prevent competition in the restaurant business is part of what has helped that industry thrive. Without seeing the actual lawsuit, it's difficult to know what they're actually suing him for. Perhaps they could make a trade secret claim, but recipes themselves cannot be copyrighted, so there's no copyright claim here.

But, really, as you read the quotes from the pizza shop owners who are doing the suing, it appears that they're making an emotional claim, saying things like: "Don't take something that someone else's family started and claim it as your own, because it is not." Okay, sure, but how do you think your family came up with the original recipe in the first place? It wasn't invented from scratch. They got a basic recipe from somewhere else, and perhaps improved upon it, but when someone orders a pizza from your shop, do you tell them who gave the family the original recipe? Of course not.

Then there's this: "I just don't want to compete against my own food." Right, so you're using the law for anti-competitive purposes. The law is supposed to encourage competition, not discourage it.
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Filed Under: copying, pizza, recipes


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  1. identicon
    Jeff Rife, 3 Nov 2010 @ 1:05pm

    Re: Re: This is silly....

    What size pan is this for?

    It takes me at least 4 cups of flour to get a decent thickness of crust on a 12" deep dish pizza. Also, where's the "food" for the yeast? You need some sort of sugar in there to get a good rise.

    Back on topic...I "stole" most of my pizza recipes from the place I worked for in Texas, and now they might not recognize some of them.

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