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Who owns the Recipes PLEASE HELP

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  • Who owns the Recipes PLEASE HELP

    I'm the brewer at a recently opened brand new brewery, I'm not a owner just an employee. All of our beers are from recipes that I've developed over the last few years of home brewing, several of which have won medals. The owner of the brewery has offered me $500 all the recipes that I'm currently brewing, some of which have become VERY popular. I have a NEIPA that is as good as any beer on the market and I really believe with the right marketing and distribution this beer could make the owner A LOT LOT LOT of money. How should this be handled?
    Head Brewer
    Chattabrewchee Southern Brewhouse
    West Point GA

  • #2
    Do you have an employment contract? There may be something in there. I know in a lot of industries products developed are owned by the company not the person who develops them. In this case since they are yours from before you started working there you have a bit more to stand on.

    Did the owner come with any of his own recipes? If so, how have they been selling compared to your beers?

    I will say that I have been in your position. I went to work for a startup and the owners beers were not big sellers. The beers that I developed while I was there have been some of the more popular beers and have served the company well even though we decided to part ways. I believe that $500 is way too low of a price if you are the one doing all the development. If you plan on staying there long term I would talk to the owner about getting some sort of equity stake in the company. Assuming your recipes are as good as you think they are this allows you to reap the benefits long term as things grow.

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    • #3
      No he doesn't have any of his own and so far every beer I've brewed were recipes I development before I was employed at the brewery
      Head Brewer
      Chattabrewchee Southern Brewhouse
      West Point GA

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      • #4
        I'm honestly surprised you are getting offered anything at all for them. You were paid by the company to develop the recipes for the company, and therefore I would view the recipes as property of the company. The other thing about recipes is that if the owner changes one ingredient by .1%, it is now a new recipe because it is considered an improvement.

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        • #5
          There was a brewing company several years ago in my neck of the woods that underwent a similar turmoil. New owners came in, fired the existing Brewer, and told him to leave the recipes on the bosses desk. The Brewer stated the recipes belong to him not the company. This whole thing ended up in court and as I recall it was determined the recipes that the Brewer came up with on his own time (homebrewing, etc.) belonged to the Brewer. Any recipes developed at the brewery on the clock, were the property of the brewing company.

          Of course in hindsight, what should've happened when the Brewer brought these homebrew recipes into the company there should have been a written agreement stipulating any compensation, any usage of the recipes, and maybe even how long the brewery could use the recipes.

          But if it gets nasty and ends up in court, whoever has the most paperwork, wins. By that I mean whoever can prove the closest origin of the recipes will probably be awarded ownership.

          Disclaimer: I am not an attorney however I do play one in my brewhouse.

          Prost!
          Dave

          Post Script: $500 is WAY too low. Maybe per recipe?
          Glacier Brewing Company
          406-883-2595
          info@glacierbrewing.com

          "who said what now?"

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          • #6
            I'm in agreement with RipRap. Adjusting a malt profile by a couple pounds technically equals a new recipe, so you should be happy you're being offered any money. Many company's contracts (not just breweries) have wording in them that any development that is done with company equipment or during paid hours belong to the company. I would imagine that the recipes you've been brewing have received tweaks as you've been moving along, technically making the newly developed recipes property of the brewery. YMMV.
            Peter Landman | Brewmaster | Seabright Brewery | Santa Cruz, CA

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            • #7
              If the company already has copies of the recipes on file, you might be SOL if you try to take back ownership of them. In most instances, recipes can't be copyrighted (special processes can be). The thinking behind that is that there's only so many ingredients and measurements of those ingredients, and if someone had a lot of time on their hands, they could theoretically copyright every imaginable recipe, and stop everybody else from producing their recipes, or reap huge royalties from their production. This is why so many food and beverage companies have secret recipes that only a handful of people know. If they could copyright them, they wouldn't be so protective.

              As mentioned earlier, you might angle for some equity in the company rather than $ per recipe. That will most likely be better for you in the long run, as long as the company stays in business. I wouldn't recommend making it a point of contention, since, as RipRap said, they can change the recipe slightly, and it's no longer your recipe. Even so, if you were being paid to scale up the recipes from a homebrewing recipe, this would make it the company's recipe.

              You can probably get something out of this since the owner is already offering, but it sounds like you learned the importance of having a contract in place before you gave away your recipes. If you get nothing else, you can at least build your resume for the next time you're looking for work in the industry. Hope it works out for you.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by RipRap View Post
                I'm honestly surprised you are getting offered anything at all for them. You were paid by the company to develop the recipes for the company, and therefore I would view the recipes as property of the company. The other thing about recipes is that if the owner changes one ingredient by .1%, it is now a new recipe because it is considered an improvement.
                Did you not read the OP, every recipe so far were recipes I developed before I was ever employed by the brewery
                Head Brewer
                Chattabrewchee Southern Brewhouse
                West Point GA

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                • #9
                  Hey guys I'm not trying to screw the brewery, I'm also not trying to F the owner over, this is something neither us I have ever thought about and it just came up in conversation. Actually the owner and I are very good friends. The owner has just retired from the Army and I'm still a career firefighter/EMT with over 32 years of service. We're both new to all this.
                  Last edited by GSD341; 11-30-2017, 03:20 PM.
                  Head Brewer
                  Chattabrewchee Southern Brewhouse
                  West Point GA

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by GSD341 View Post
                    Did you not read the OP, every recipe so far were recipes I developed before I was ever employed by the brewery
                    right.... but you technically handed them over for free when you brewed it there as an employee.
                    If you have a good friendship with the owner, work that aspect and hope they don't screw you.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by GSD341 View Post
                      Hey guys I'm not trying to screw the brewery, I'm also not trying to F the owner over, this is something neither us I have ever thought about and it just came up in conversation. Actually the owner and I are very good friends. The owner has just retired from the Army and I'm still a career firefighter/EMT with over 32 years of service. We're both new to all this.
                      No one has suggested either...

                      The options suggested were work out an agreement for partnership in the brewery, or come up with a reasonable price you'd accept to sell the recipes.
                      You could always "Improve" the recipe later if you decide to open your own place.

                      Separate question, I was looking at the facebook for the brewery... Georgia allows customers to self serve?

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by nate_lapt View Post
                        No one has suggested either...

                        The options suggested were work out an agreement for partnership in the brewery, or come up with a reasonable price you'd accept to sell the recipes.
                        You could always "Improve" the recipe later if you decide to open your own place.

                        Separate question, I was looking at the facebook for the brewery... Georgia allows customers to self serve?
                        Yes but, at 32 oz the tap system automatically locks you out and you can't serve yourself more beer until you check in with us, at which point we can activate your card a second time and you can have another 32 oz.
                        Head Brewer
                        Chattabrewchee Southern Brewhouse
                        West Point GA

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Employee

                          You were hired as an employee to brew beer. You presumably get a paycheck to do your job. THAT is your compensation. You don't deserve anything more than that. Recipes are a dime a dozen. You are paid to work and brew, period. Don't want to share your recipes, just brew other ones. If you are as good as you suggest, they will be good beers too. If you want to be a partner, take on some of the risk and then share in the rewards.



                          Originally posted by GSD341 View Post
                          Hey guys I'm not trying to screw the brewery, I'm also not trying to F the owner over, this is something neither us I have ever thought about and it just came up in conversation. Actually the owner and I are very good friends. The owner has just retired from the Army and I'm still a career firefighter/EMT with over 32 years of service. We're both new to all this.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by jbrewer View Post
                            You were hired as an employee to brew beer. You presumably get a paycheck to do your job. THAT is your compensation. You don't deserve anything more than that. Recipes are a dime a dozen. You are paid to work and brew, period. Don't want to share your recipes, just brew other ones. If you are as good as you suggest, they will be good beers too. If you want to be a partner, take on some of the risk and then share in the rewards.
                            Chill out man, the owner actually asked me the question I asked here. I had no idea how to answer him.
                            Head Brewer
                            Chattabrewchee Southern Brewhouse
                            West Point GA

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                            • #15
                              Easiest answer is to consult with an attorney on this one. However that will most likely cost more than $500 they are offering!!!

                              Recipes are shared and cloned so much. Even if you held onto your recipes tightly some experienced home brewer could probably clone it from tasting it and reading the beers description from a menu.

                              Also, I've seen a lot of times home brewers just email a brewery saying they want to clone a certain recipe of theirs and the brewery gives out the entire recipe.

                              Hope this situation works out ok for you.
                              Last edited by Catfish002; 11-30-2017, 07:41 PM.

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