Author :chef ssentongo Geoffrey
Blog : FOOD ENTREPRENEURSHIP
If you put in time and effort to invest your own recipes or culinary designs, it’s natural that you’d want to protect them from copycats.
Patent and Trademark office is the governmental organization that issues legal protections to new inventions. These protections come in the form of patents and Trademarks.
So are patent and Trademarks available to culinarians who create new recipes or culinary designs?
The answer is…. Sometimes! We’re going to dig into what patents and Trademarks are, and how you may be able to use them to protect your inventions.
Note: This post is for informational purposes only and is not intended to serve as legal advice.
PATENTS IN THE CULINARY WORLD
What is a patent?
A patent is an exclusive license that gives an inventor or company the right to use and monetize their invention. This license serves as an incentive that let’s inventors profit financially from their work.
THREE TYPES OF PATENTS
* Design patent —protects an ornamental design, like a new kind of cake decoration or packaging. The Heinz “Dip and squeeze” ketchup packet.
* utility patent —protects a “new and useful process, machine, article of manufacture, or composition of matter.
* Plant patent — protects new kind of plants. A new herb or vegetable hybrid could be eligible to get a plant patent if it meets the legal requirements.
HOW CAN DESIGN PATENTS APPLY TO THE WORLD OF FOOD?
A design patent can offer protection for the visual components of a culinary creation. This could include the food item itself or the packaging it comes in.
CAN YOU PATENT A RECIPE?
It may seem at first glance that a utility patent would be a good way to protect a recipe. After all, a recipe is a “new and useful process… or composition of matter…” right?
Well, another rule regarding utility patent is that they have to be “Novel” and “Nonobvious”. And since recipe are usually the sum of their ingredients, it can be hard to make the “Nonobvious” argument.
This doesn’t mean it’s impossible to patent a new recipe. It does happen. In many cases, you my prefer not to patent your recipe. Why? Because patents are public. If you want to patent a new recipe, you have to divulge it.
TRADEMARKS MAY BE THE BETTER ROUTE
* what is a trademark?
A trademark is a word, phrase, and /or design that refers to a specific product or service. Trademark is often used as an umbrella term, but it specifically refers to products, while service mark refers to services. With a trademark, you’re not protecting the process or invention. You are protecting the brand around that process or invention.
WORD MARKS AND LOGO MARKS
* A word mark —is the name of the product, service, or brand.
* A logo mark—is a protected design, like the Nike swoosh. It may also appear with a word mark.
Protecting your Brand with a Trademark
With a trademark, you protect the name of your creation and prove that you created the original.
KNOW THE LAW AROUND HOME-BASED CATERING
Before you file any paperwork or spend a shilling to establish your business entity, you need to know what is possible in your area.
START LOOKING AT THE NUMBERS
There are two factors to a business profitability–income and expenses. Before you jump into your new venture, start sketching your financial outlook and making some projections so you can see your way to a money-making business.
WHAT WILL IT COST TO OPEN YOUR DOORS?
There are costs associated with every business. How much will cost you to start your catering business at home, and how long will it take to recoup those costs?
Try to keep your expenses low at the beginning. Instead of buying all new equipment and serving dishes, what can you find second hand even borrow? Can you do local, low cost marketing instead of a pricey online ad?
HOW MUCH CAN YOU EXPECT TO BRING IN?
How many events can you reasonably cater per year? And how large do you plan for those events to be? This is a vital part of your planning process, and goes to the very heart of your home catering business.
It’s not all about how many events you cando–it’s about how many you want to do. Flexibility is part of the appeal of this business model, so it’s up to you to decide what you want your business to look like.
CREATE YOUR BUSINESS ENTITY
Name your Home-Based catering Business
Time to brainstorm some names!
Check out, the name to make sure that it hasn’t already been used.
CREATE YOUR BUSINESS STRUCTURE
Also proprietorship is the easiest to create, but it doesn’t keep your personal and business assets separate. A limited liability company will protect your personal assets from business debts or liability.
Get any Required licenses and Permits.
START BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS WITH VENDORS
As a catering business owner, you have access to wholesale food supplies that can supply you with bulk ingredients at better prices.
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