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Have You Developed the Perfect Thanksgiving Recipe? Understanding Copyrights and Culinary Creations **Attorney Advertising**

Thanksgiving is a time of tradition, gratitude, and, of course, sumptuous feasts. Many of us spend hours, if not days, preparing that perfect dish that leaves family and friends raving. But what if you’ve concocted a truly unique Thanksgiving recipe? One that stands out and has the potential to become the next big culinary sensation? Should you copyright it? Here’s what you need to know about copyrights and culinary creations:

The Basics of Copyright

At its core, copyright is a form of protection given to the creators of “original works of authorship,” including literary, dramatic, musical, and certain other intellectual works. This protection is available both for published and unpublished works.

Can Recipes Be Copyrighted?

Here’s where it gets a bit tricky. The U.S. Copyright Office states that mere listings of ingredients, such as those found in recipes, are not subject to copyright protection. However, where a recipe or formula is accompanied by substantial literary expression in the form of an explanation or directions, or when there is a collection of recipes as in a cookbook, there may be a basis for copyright protection.

In simpler terms:

  • Not Copyrightable: “Mix 2 cups of flour, 1 cup of sugar, and three eggs.”
  • Potentially Copyrightable: A detailed, step-by-step guide on how to make the perfect Thanksgiving turkey, complete with personal anecdotes, tips, and original illustrations.

Protecting Your Culinary Creation

If you believe your Thanksgiving recipe goes beyond a mere list of ingredients and includes substantial literary expression, here are some steps you can consider:

  1. Document Everything: Write down every step, tip, and trick involved in making your dish. The more detailed and expressive, the better.
  2. Photographs & Illustrations: Original photos of the cooking process or illustrations can add a layer of copyright protection.
  3. Consider a Cookbook: If you have multiple unique recipes, compiling them into a cookbook can offer broader protection.
  4. Consult with an Intellectual Property Attorney: Before taking any steps, it’s wise to consult with an attorney. They can guide you on whether your recipe qualifies for copyright protection and assist with the registration process.


While the mere list of ingredients in your Thanksgiving masterpiece might not be copyrightable, the way you express, present, and perhaps even market it could be. If you believe you’ve created something truly special, it’s worth exploring your intellectual property rights. After all, in the world of culinary arts, as with other forms of creation, it’s not just about the ingredients but the magic you bring to them. If you have questions or want to dive into your options, please feel free to contact us (888) 666-0062 or click here to schedule an Initial Discovery Session online.

DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this article is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice or a substitute for obtaining legal advice from an attorney.