The Royal Wedding cake contains several layers of Intellectual Property (IP) protection. This chef-d’oeuvre is a good example of how all the different IP ingredients can be mixed together into one single creation. From copyright, industrial design and trade-marks to trade secrets and patents, all elements of IP are important for the protection of such culinary creations.
Let’s start with copyright. While a list of ingredients is typically not protected under copyright, the directions are, provided they are the result of the cake master’s judgment and talent, are original and are written down on a piece of paper (or affixed to any other support). If all these conditions are met, the recipe enjoys all the benefits of copyright. However, the best protection for the little “je-nesais- quoi” in taste may be trade secrets. Not surprisingly, the royal cakemaker Fiona Cairns does not wish to reveal all the ingredients used in her masterpiece, arguably to make it more difficult for others to recreate the unique taste of her cake.
The appearance of a cake like the one at Prince William and Kate’s wedding is also protected by copyright, as an artistic work (much like a sculpture). Indeed, tremendous skill and judgment is required to create an eight-tiered cake decorated with 900 delicate sugarpaste flowers.
The Royal Wedding Cake may well become a signature dish of Cairns. It would be fair to assume, given the incredible media attention the Royal Wedding has attracted, that consumers are likely to be able to associate a three-dimensional reproduction of the Royal Wedding cake to its cakemaker and as such, any threedimensional reproductions of this cake could be protected as a distinguishing guise.
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Cakes and moulds can also potentially be protected by industrial designs, provided the design is ornamental, original and filed within one year of its creation. The Canadian Intellectual Property Office database contains some industrial designs protecting the shape, ornamentation and configuration of cakes, but the popularity of this form of IP may have known better days, given the declining number of new filings. Moulds could also potentially be protected by patents if they are considered new and useful inventions, namely any art, process, machine, manufacture or composition of matter or improvement upon any of the aforementioned.
Chefs, there is a lot of IP potential baking in your ovens! Don’t leave these ingredients out; mix them together and fully utilize their potential.