Intellectual Property Law

Chicken sandwich can't be copyrighted, federal appeals court rules

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chicken sandwich

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A ham sandwich, as popular lore has it, may well be indictable.

But a chicken sandwich isn’t copyrightable, a federal appeals court has ruled.

Agreeing with a trial court’s decision, the 1st U.S. Court of Appeals on Friday held (PDF) that a fast-food worker seeking a $10 million share of the profits allegedly reaped from his chicken sandwich concept is out of luck.

“A recipe—or any instructions—listing the combination of chicken, lettuce, tomato, cheese, and mayonnaise on a bun to create a sandwich is quite plainly not a copyrightable work,” the court wrote. Likewise, the name of the sandwich also can’t be copyrighted because “words and short phrases, such as names, titles, and slogans” can’t be protected.

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