He kindly replied to our questions to enable us to collect the main needs of chefs as to the legal protection of their concept.
O.S. : I had a look at your activities and, honestly, I feel puzzled about how a “know-how” can be protected. In our profession, knowledge is inherited from our grand-mothers. How can then one protect a recipe when its purpose is to stay in the culinary tradition?
This question is even more justified when speaking of regional recipes. A Castelnaudary Cassoulet(1) is different from a Toulouse Cassoulet. Then I have doubts about stating that one can register a “know-how”.
INLEX : The solution is not to « register » a know-how as such on a recipe, but rather to protect a combination of genuine elements which compose your concept.
O.S. : How would it be possible to prevent people from taking up my ideas ?INLEX : Ideas may not be monopolised. We would rather talk about the protection of an original combination through tools such as trademarks, designs and originality claims.O.S. : It would indeed be interesting for us to protect the concept of our restaurant thanks for instance to worksheets. The same process could be used for recipes with different varieties having their own originality.
INLEX : Right, if you decide to give a name to each recipe.
Then you will have to handle the success generated by your products. The trademark PINA COLADA was cancelled because its owner failed to react toward an extensive use of it in the common language.
O.S. : In the event of a concept protection, what would then happen if someone takes up the concept by withdrawing a few isolated elements thereof ?
INLEX : This depends on the strategy of concept protection. In cases of poor protection strategies, the change in one detail can annihilate the protection in its whole.
O.S. : Then the first step to take is to define the original elements of the concept, isn’t it?
INLEX : Yes, but the concept can also be composed of creative associations. For instance we noticed the campaign around the association of the trademark PIERRADE and the PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) le Beaujolais. The SMOOTHY example is also remarkable. The recipe is not new since it merely consists in a creamy fruit beverage. But what is new is the association ot the beverage with the trademark SMOOTHY .
O.S. : As far as I am concerned, I can say that my salads have a specific personality, but I would not be able to describe why they meet such a success and I have not seen the same around. The concept of a restaurant is related to five parameters: the welcome, the « ambiance », the decoration, the quality of service and of course the quality of the dishes. Personality is intimately linked with the individual chef.
INLEX : Are you the one who decides about the evolution of your menus?
O.S. : Yes, I have for example called my Italian dish « Dolce Vita » and my folksy one is called « La Country ».
INLEX : Are you going to use the same names in each season ?O.S. : Yes, with slight differences. I choose fancy names so that the clients can not be disappointed as to the authenticity of the recipes. By the way, who can be sure about the genuine recipe of the Niçoise salad?
My Directors grant me enough means to carry out my ideas. My ideas evolve. In fact we can conclude that only chains are used to duplicate their concept, which leaves little freedom to Chefs, when my concept precisely lies in being unique.
(1) Cassoulet is basically like a thick stew of beans with a sausage and a leg of goose or duck. It originated in Castelnaudary in the south of France and if you want to make an ‘authentic’ cassoulet, it has to use local ingredients and be baked in an earthenware dish made of local clay.