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Thread: Recipe rights

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Location
    PA
    Posts
    80

    Recipe rights

    Someone posed a question to me and I did not know the answer so I thought I would ask for you opinions. Anyways at the brewery I now work at I am responsible for formulating about 1/2 of the recipes for our house brews and all of the seasonals we have ran in the last year. If for some reason I decided to move on who has the rights to these recipes, the brewery to keep using with a new brewer, or myself to take to where ever I may end up. Luckily this isn't something I should have to worry about anytime soon, but it did make me start thinking when I was asked.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    Black Mountain
    Posts
    74

    recipes

    I dont think you can put a patent on a recipe. Surely you can take all the knowledge and skill aquired with you when you leave, even the recipes memorized in your head. I am sure though the "names" of the brews you use are going to be specific to each operation, and you might run into trouble if you brewed a beer in two places and called them by the same name.

    Disclaimer: "I am not a lawyer!"
    Dave

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Posts
    21

    recipe rights

    There was an article in one of the trade magazines on this topic a few years back. According to the research the authour of the article did, if you formulate a recipe while working at a brewery, the recipe belongs to the brewery. This doesn't apply if it is a recipe you formulated elsewhere.
    The best way is to not share your brewing records. In a brewpub environment, they usually don't care anyways. However, in a brewery that is packaging it's beers, it's alot more important because they are banking on consistently producing the same brands.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Location
    N.O.LA. usa
    Posts
    42

    change

    I would ( personally ) say they were the breweries ,
    but , if it came down to legalities - Im quite sure the h2o
    you would be using would be different in the 2 places
    ( hardness, and minerals ) which would be a change in recipe
    Ive found its nice to taste your own recipe w/some-one
    else brewing it.

    IM not a lawyer either


    cheers,

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Location
    USA/Taiwan
    Posts
    32
    I have been asked to sign (and did) proprietary information and inventions agreements which pretty much leaves no room for these sorts of questions. However, as one message states in a different way, your intellectual property is yours forever and if that beer you brewed at Brewery X is similar to the beer you currently brew for Brewery Y, that is just fine because you are using your own knowledge base to formulate the new recipe and similarities would be expected by the court.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Location
    Polson, Montana, USA
    Posts
    1,091
    This exact thing happened at a brewery here in my neck of the woods. A brewer left a brewery, claimed the recipies were developed on "his own time" and were therefore his property. The brewery owner saw it differently. The whole thing ended up in court with the brewer being ordered to commit the recipies to paper for the owner and the owner had to post an outrageous "bond" so he could use the recipies until it could all be ironed out in court. Not really sure how it ended but it does not sound fun. I would suggest this uncomfortable issues gets brought up LONG before you leave the brewery. I agree with the previous posters, I do not believe you can patent a recipie.
    Good Luck!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    Las Vegas
    Posts
    387

    Recipe

    This issue seems a little unneccesary unless you are talking about taking a recipe from one big brewery to another competitior, even then every brewery is trying to differentiate itself so the likelyhood of another production brewery wanting you to produce the exact same beer as a competitior is small. In a brewpub situation the issue is moot. What two beers are going to taste exactly the same when brewed at 2 different locations, and who besides the brewer really knows what exactly goes in each batch. Adding a pound or two of wheat would make it a different recipe anyway. I wouldn't sweat it either way. The issue of a brewer leaving and taking all the recipes with him is the only legitimate concern, that is not fair to the pub owner unless that was the agreement from the get go. If I switched Brewpubs I know I wouldn't take any of the exact recipes with me, whats the fun of that? There is always room for experimentation and improvement!
    Big Willey
    "You are what you is." FZ

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    Mount Vernon, WA, USA
    Posts
    2
    Any property you produce, intellectual or otherwise, while in the employ of another person is that employers property unless agreed to previously. This has been thoroughly worked out in the academic world. A researcher for a university does not have any right to discoveries made while working for the university. Most high level researchers have an employment agreement that cuts them in on any commercial success of their intellectual contribution. This is the free market solution.

    A brewer who is asked by their employer to develop a recipe should note the time spent in research and be compensated for that time. Typically sitting in a bar getting stewed doesn't count but reading up in many of the recipe and style books would and sitting down with other brewers, servers, knowledgable patrons, sales staff and sampling some beers on the market or pilot batches would be expected. Take notes and present a rational for your recipe. The main concepts being historical style, cost, consumer expectation and marketing concept.

    As a brewer and owner I would look poorly on any brewer that did not document the conception and production of a beer. As professionals, our ability to replicate a beer for our paying customers is what seperates us from the amateur.

    I have never been very secretive about recipes. Any brewer worth their grist should be able to knock off another beer with little trouble. Making a truly unique and enjoyable brew is the hard part. Having worked in over ten brewhouses, it is necessary to tweak any recipe to make it come out the same in a different brewery.

    This issue is usually found amongst non-brewing owners who don't realize the art in brewing and confounded by brewers who think that a successful beer is all in the brewing.

    Charlie Sullivan
    Skagit River Brewery

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Location
    Rutherglen 3685 Vic Australia
    Posts
    29
    How does all this sit with contract brews?
    We just made a brew for someone ealse & sold them the resipe for $1000.00. Mostly for security incase they decided to pull out before any thing was signed.
    MIKE S

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Location
    Austin, Texas
    Posts
    351
    It seems to me an awfully murky area. If you define "recipe" as a specific list of ingredients in specific amounts/proportions and a specific chain of steps taken at certain times and temperatures... well, I can brew two beers practically indistinguishable from each other, but change the finishing hops, or make some other slight variation, and it won't be the exact same recipe...

    Cheers, Tim

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