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Can You Copyright A Drink?

Vector outline hand drawn illustration with different cocktails, fruits and mint leaves on blackboard background

July 29, 2019

A recipe is like a phone book, and you can’t own anything so “factual,” said an IP expert, a panelist at a recent bar industry conference. The question arises, notes this post from Ars Technica, because there’s been something of a renaissance in fancy cocktails that originate in some influential bar and then show up in bars all over the world. That hardly seems fair to the originator, but the U.S. Copyright Office specifically notes that a “mere listing of ingredients or contents, or a simple set of directions, is uncopyrightable.” However, according to the panelist, an IP attorney who has represented some major beverage companies, it is possible to get IP rights to a cocktail nonetheless. Case in point is one company she has done work for, Gosling’s Rum. It holds not a copyright, but rather trademark rights, on the “Dark ‘n’ Stormy.”

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