Originally published in Law360, New York (June 11, 2012, 12:54 PM ET).
Is food “art”? It can be. Artistic — even decadent — dishes date at least as far back as the dinner parties of the ancient Roman aristocracy. A known 16th century amusement in England was to have live birds fly out of a baked pie, and we often refer to the “culinary arts” today. For our purposes, what we mean: Is food legally protectable as copyrighted art? May food companies and chefs claim this type of protection over their tasty creations?
Recently, the Central District of California ruled on a copyright dispute over similar bowls of a traditional Vietnamese dish as “sculpture.” The Kim Seng Company claimed copyright protection over the bowl of food featured in a photograph on its packaged rice noodles. Not only the photograph, but the actual bowl of food, itself, was copyrighted as sculpture, and Kim Seng contended that J & A Importers’ similar packaging was infringing.
The law does not traditionally link food and copyright. This most recent food copyright claim to be heard by the courts clarifies the obstacles to copyrighting food, and provides a serving dish for discussing the more common methods of protecting food as intellectual property.
Please see full article below for more information.
Firefox recommends the PDF Plugin for Mac OS X for viewing PDF documents in your browser.
We can also show you Legal Updates using the Google Viewer; however, you will need to be logged into Google Docs to view them.
Please choose one of the above to proceed!
LOADING PDF: If there are any problems, click here to download the file.