How to Patent Food Ideas

By Jeff Franco J.D./M.A./M.B.A.

If you have some great food ideas and want the exclusive right to manufacture or sell them in the United States, obtaining a patent on each idea is a smart thing to do. To obtain patent protection, you must file an application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, or USPTO. A separate patent application must be filed for each food product or recipe idea, and your application must reflect a tested process or product rather than just a vague idea.

If you have some great food ideas and want the exclusive right to manufacture or sell them in the United States, obtaining a patent on each idea is a smart thing to do. To obtain patent protection, you must file an application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, or USPTO. A separate patent application must be filed for each food product or recipe idea, and your application must reflect a tested process or product rather than just a vague idea.

Step 1

Search the USPTO online database of existing patents to make sure your food idea hasn’t been patented already. You can conduct a basic or advanced search using various keywords at the USPTO website (see Resources). A thorough search using all possible keywords is essential so you don’t waste time and money filing a patent application for a pre-existing food product or recipe.

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Step 2

Evaluate your food idea and make sure it includes a unique recipe or cooking process. Your food idea must be “novel and non-obvious,” meaning it must either result from combining a unique set of ingredients or a unique way of preparing it. For example, making improvements to an apple pie recipe using common ingredients may not be sufficiently novel to warrant a patent.

Step 3

Prepare the utility patent application documents. The USPTO requires that your complete application package include an application and fee transmittal form, application data sheet, a written specification that outlines all aspects of your food idea, drawings or images of your food product (if including them will strengthen your claims) and an oath or declaration that you are the original inventor. The latter is required only if you are filing a non-provisional patent application. For some of these documentary requirements, the USPTO provides standard forms on its website that you can fill in.

Step 4

File your patent application with the USPTO. The USPTO encourages filers to use its EFS-Web system. This system allows you to transmit all your documents online. It is also necessary to pay the applicable filing fee for your food patent application. If you elect to submit your application on paper rather than through EFS-Web, the filing fee is increased by $400.

File a provisional application for patent online. Get Started Now
How to Patent a Food Product to Sell

References

Resources

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How to Patent a Product When a Similar Patent Exists

Distinguishing between products and inventions is central to understanding parent law. A product may be based upon one or more inventions. These inventions are often protected by patents. Just because two products are similar doesn't mean that they can't both be protected by one or more patents. For example, both Apple and Microsoft make operating systems. Both operating systems perform similar functions. However, both are protected by different patents that speak to the differences between the two inventions.

Can You Get a Patent for an Idea?

You cannot patent an idea alone. If you develop the specifics of your idea, however, you might be able to patent it. A patent grants you a temporary legal monopoly on the right to use and profit from your invention. You may sell your patent outright or simply license the use of your invention. After your patent expires, anyone may use and profit from your invention.

Patent Drawing Rules

Inventors often include drawings when they submit a patent application. These drawings help the patent examiner understand the invention and determine if it can be patented.You can find the rules that govern these drawings in the Manual of Patent Examining Procedures, or MPEP. These rules are rather complex, so many patent attorneys hire special draftsmen who are familiar with the legal requirements. Some online document providers also include preparation of drawings among their patent filing services.

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