Can you sell something you made from an recipe found online? 4 Answers as of December 23, 2010

I have found this recipe online for a hot sauce. Everybody that has tried it loves it. They keep wanting more. The question is can I legally sell the finished product commercially? A potential business might want me to make it for them. This recipe was found on a website that shares nothing but recipes. So technically I do not know if the original poster created this or not. The question is, if I mass produce this, could they come back and say I stole their recipe? Thanks.

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Handal & Morofsky LLC
Handal & Morofsky LLC | Anthony H. Handal
The question raises questions of copyright and patent law. Even if a recipe is copyrighted, you are free to sell the product. If, however, there is some patent protection on the recipe, there may be an issue. However, this is unlikely as recipes are quite difficult to protect with patents.
Answer Applies to: New York
Replied: 12/23/2010
Mark S. Hubert PC
Mark S. Hubert PC | Mark Hubert
Recipes for food are patentable. I cant tell you that just because it is published publicly that someone does not have a patent. You will need to perform a search for that,
Answer Applies to: Oregon
Replied: 12/22/2010
Fish & Associates, PC
Fish & Associates, PC | Robert D. Fish
Right to practice depends on whether there is an intellectual property protecting the recipe. You could probably search patentability of the recipe yourself using the website, or Google patents. There might also be copyright protection, but that is much more difficult to search since any registration might be made under an author and/or title that you don't know about. That's probably not a very satisfying answer, but the fact is that you either need to just proceed ("damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead") or spend some time doing the research.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 12/22/2010
Young Basile
Young Basile | Denise Glassmeyer
The question for you and your attorney is whether this recipe is covered by a valid enforceable patent.

Food products and methods for making food products can be patented if the invention meets the statutory requirements of novelty, utility and nonobviousness. Novelty and nonovbviousness can be steep requirements given the prevalence of all kinds of recipes.

A good business opportunity like the one you outline warrants a little diligence. Discuss the specifics with your patent attorney. You very well may be busy making hot sauce in the future.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 12/22/2010
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