Tomaydo-Tomahhdo, LLC v. Vozary

Summarized by:

  • Court: Intellectual Property Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Copyright, Infringement
  • Date Filed: 01-29-2015
  • Case #: 1:14 CV 469
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, Eastern Division
  • LexisNexis Citation: 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 10532
  • Westlaw Citation: Not yet available
  • Full Text Opinion

Recipes are functional directions for achieving a result and are excluded from copyright protection under 17 U.S.C. 102(b).

Opinion (Gaughan): Plaintiffs Tomaydo-Tomahho LLC, et al., brought this suit against defendants George Vozary, et al., for copyright infringement in connection with the use of recipes at restaurants owned by defendants. Plaintiff Rosemarie Carroll and defendant Larry Moore have previously jointly owned restaurants; Moore developed the menu items and Carroll testified that she played no role in the development of the menu nor does she know how Moore developed the recipes or what served as inspiration for the development. In 2004, Carroll and Moore opened a second restaurant, and in 2007, Carroll purchased Moore’s interest in the restaurants. In 2012, Carroll created a “Tomaydo Tomahhdo Recipe Book,” and sought copyright protection in February 2014. The copyright infringement suit followed; plaintiffs allege that defendants are using the same recipes and creating the same dishes as those served at Tomaydo-Tomahhdo. Defendants moved for summary judgment, arguing that plaintiffs’ copyright infringement claim failed because the plaintiffs had no protectable interest in the recipes contained in the book, and copyright protection does not extend to the recipes themselves. Additionally, defendants argued that they had no access to the book, so there can be no infringement, and there was no evidence that they had copied the recipes. The Court stated that, “[t]he identification of ingredients necessary for the preparation of food is a statement of facts. There is no expressive element deserving copyright protection in each listing. Thus, recipes are functional directions for achieving a result and are excluded from copyright protection under 17 U.S.C. 102(b).” Upon review, the Court found that defendants were entitled to summary judgment on plaintiffs’ copyright infringement claim because the copyright protection extends only to the layout and creative expression contained in the book, not to the recipes themselves. For this reason, defendants’ motion for summary judgment is GRANTED as to plaintiffs’ copyright infringement claim.

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