How to copyright a recipe

Written by gregory hamel
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A copyright is a form of intellectual property that is meant to protect the creator of an original creative work, such music, art or literature, against unwanted copying. A recipe in the form of a simple list of ingredients and a procedure cannot be copyrighted, as it is not considered an original work. Recipes can be copyrighted when they contain significant literary expression, such as thorough directions or other thoughts and ideas. Collections of recipes, such as those in cookbooks, can also be copyrighted.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Visit the U.S. Copyright office website (

  2. 2

    Click "Register Online," in the left-hand column.

  3. 3

    Click "Electronic Copyright Office," then "Continue."

  4. 4

    Register on the Copyright Office site by clicking "If you are a new user, click here to register" and entering the required information.

  5. 5

    Log onto to Electronic Copyright Office with your new account and follow the instructions given to register your recipe. You will have to provide detailed information about the recipe.

  6. 6

    Pay the online registration fee of £22 and submit the copyright application. The site will direct you as to how to enter your financial information to pay for the application.

Tips and warnings

  • Since the actual ingredients and procedure of a single recipe cannot be copyrighted, the best way to protect a recipe is often to keep the ingredients and procedure a secret.
  • Many recipes, such as CocaCola and KFC chicken, have been protected as trade secrets.

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