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Re: Very Quietly! ... Trade Secret, Protecting IP in Novel Food Ingredients & Derived...
Of course, you can also protect anything through a "secret formula" - as long as it is not too easy for others to "figure" the formula out.
A couple famous examples are the formula for Coca-Cola, and KFC's "11 secret herbs and spices"...
As you point out, it's not only secret ingredients which can protect something, but "secret processes" as well. You may know the ingredients for a recipe, but if you don't know exactly what to do, and in what order, you probably still can't "exactly" reproduce the final result... (And the more complicated the ingredients or the processes are, the harder it would be to figure out...)
As the article you linked to showed, you can get a patent on food items. Here's another useful link on this topic...
Can I patent a food recipe?
One potential problem with food patents (and patenting any kind of formula) is that it may be possible for someone to slightly modify the recipe, and produce something very similar, without violating the patent.
That's why some things are often better as "secret formulas" (like the secret recipe for Coca-Cola") than as patents. If it is patented, it is also public, so you are revealing to the world exactly how you created that product.
If someone can then just modify it slightly to come up with a new product that is not covered by your patent, then by revealing your ingredients or your processes, your patent may have actually helped the competition, rather than hindered them!
Why all this focus on protection? Can't you be successful without it?
Yes, you can - at least for a time. But if you are very successful - others will notice. And - if you have no protection - they will copy you, and compete with you. If you get a competitor with "deep pockets" or an already well-established position, they could even end up driving you out of business.
It's happened many times...
One last thing is that for a patent to be accepted, it must be "useful, novel and non-obvious."
Something which is too simple might be judged to not be sufficiently "novel" or perhaps be too "obvious" to be granted a patent. So that is another thing to think about.
Some business ideas are easier to "protect" than others...
For example, let's say you open a Lithuanian restaurant in your town, and let's say it is the only restaurant in town which sells Lithuanian food. People may flock to your restaurant, because they are curious and want to try Lithuanian food - and once they try it, they love it!
What's to stop 10 other people from copying your idea? The answer is... nothing. If your restaurant is very successful, pretty soon you could have 10 other Lithuanian restaurants in town, all competing with you. You can't protect the "concept" of a restaurant serving traditional Lithuanian food!
However, if you give your Lithuanian restaurant a distinctive and unique look and feel, you may be able to protect its "trade dress" - which is similar to a trademark, but for the "look and feel" of an establishment. So - the food itself (if it is traditional Lithuanian food) may not be protectable, but a unique "look and feel" (i.e. "trade dress") of the restaurant can be protected.
Of course, the name can also be trademarked as well. If you create any special logos for your restaurant, that could be trademarked as well.
Any "fun" and unique names for menu items (e.g. "Bubbling Birzai Castle Borscht") could possiby be trademarked too.
I think it pays to become familiar with this stuff, and to think about how you can protect your idea. If you can't protect your idea one way or another... you should probably either figure out a way to protect it, or think of another idea...
Okay, I've gone on long enough on this rant for now...
Last edited by Dien Rice : October 22, 2011 at 07:15 AM.
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