Virginia  |  Intellectual Property

Legal Question

Asked on: 3/16/06, 12:56 pm

Cookbook Recipe ownership

I have worked in a small, successful restuarant for the past 10 years. We change the menu often, aprox. 12-15 menus a year. This is rare considering the type of food we are doing, but the process produces a wealth of information. Unfortunately, that information, other than on printed menus, is largely in our heads. The owner of the restaurant would like us to put out a cookbook, and with no apparent ghost writer, the recipe-writing, which is quite time consuming, is to come solely from me and the kitchen staff. However, there has been no discussion about financial compensation for what I see to be potentially our creative property and also a lot of hard work.

To the best of my knowledge, I don't remember assigning away my creative rights in any type of employment contract. So, what is the fair and ethical way for me to proceed? I'd like everyone's position to be clear before the project begins.

If I (and my staff) never waived our rights to the 1000-plus dishes we've produced over the years, can we legally expect to be compensated if a cookbook using those--or

new--recipes is produced? And do you have any idea what profit percentage is appropriate to request? Do I, also, need to contact an attorney?

Thank you

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