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Commercial Brewery Recipes And Legalities

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maldridge

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Hey all,

So this has been on my mind for a while, and I can't seem to find any answers.

I've always wondered, what makes a particular recipe belong to a brewery? By that I mean what's stopping Joe Blogs from finding out a recipe (Let's say Mountain Goat Steam Ale for example), brewing it under his own label, and selling it to the public?

Are there copyright laws in place for such a thing? If so how on earth are they enforced?

I can't help but relate it back to the music industry - where copyright is a huge issue. A particular band might release a song with 'X' chord progression. Another band comes along and makes a different song, but may happen to use that same progression somewhere throughout the song, and BAM, depending on which record label we're talking about here and how greedy they are (basically all of them), the poor bastards are now going to be sued.

What are your thoughts on this? Is there a definitive answer?

And just to clarify no, I do not intend on stealing recipes and trying to sell them myself :lol:
 

bignath

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Hey all,

So this has been on my mind for a while, and I can't seem to find any answers.

I've always wondered, what makes a particular recipe belong to a brewery? By that I mean what's stopping Joe Blogs from finding out a recipe (Let's say Mountain Goat Steam Ale for example), brewing it under his own label, and selling it to the public?

Are there copyright laws in place for such a thing? If so how on earth are they enforced?

I can't help but relate it back to the music industry - where copyright is a huge issue. A particular band might release a song with 'X' chord progression. Another band comes along and makes a different song, but may happen to use that same progression somewhere throughout the song, and BAM, depending on which record label we're talking about here and how greedy they are (basically all of them), the poor bastards are now going to be sued.

What are your thoughts on this? Is there a definitive answer?

And just to clarify no, I do not intend on stealing recipes and trying to sell them myself :lol:
They'd have to be copyrighted/intellectual property/patent/trademark type things going on for sure. There are some Breweries for example that own "older" recipes, and they have to brew it within a certain time frame before they relinquish the right to the material, and someone else can come in and apply to be the new owner of the beer/recipe etc.. I think it's something like they need to brew it once every 10 or 15 years to keep valid ownership. It may be using the wrong terminology but several members here will now what i'm trying to describe.

It's probably not quite the same as the music industry though (im a private music tutor/professional musician as a job). There are only a certain amount of chord progression combinations that will sound pleasing to the ear (for the majority of cultures/countries), whereas the ingredients available (including water profile and salts) are much more plentiful. The tweaks you could do to "someone elses" recipe by changing slight %'s of ingredients, changing the processes used to create it would be a lot more immense than the chords from your standard pop/rock track.

Current pop music is using chord progressions that have been around for centuries (classical composers and the harmonic analysis of) and all the listeners think is "wow, a new song"...

Very different to my mind, but id bee keen to see some of the responses to this question nonetheless.

Cheers,

Nath
 

///

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There is propriety around yeast strains and the like, Abbotsford A yeast is a example of a DNA fingerprinted yeast developed by CUB for use in thier products.Legal stouches have been had between brewers on yeasts used in beers procured in not so legal ways. Funny thing about brewing though, (like any form of food manufacture), you can have the same recipe and in 5 breweries get 5 different results.

For the raw materials, how far of a change makes the product different via the materials and brewing specifications? Moreso, I think important is IP versus Copyright, inclusive of the marketing/branding and such.

I'm happy to let folks know what ingredients I use in my beers, but the specific amounts, then thats a different kettle of fish.
 

maldridge

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There is propriety around yeast strains and the like, Abbotsford A yeast is a example of a DNA fingerprinted yeast developed by CUB for use in thier products.Legal stouches have been had between brewers on yeasts used in beers procured in not so legal ways. Funny thing about brewing though, (like any form of food manufacture), you can have the same recipe and in 5 breweries get 5 different results.

For the raw materials, how far of a change makes the product different via the materials and brewing specifications? Moreso, I think important is IP versus Copyright, inclusive of the marketing/branding and such.

I'm happy to let folks know what ingredients I use in my beers, but the specific amounts, then thats a different kettle of fish.

You make a good point there, and something I forgot to bring up.

There are more and more craft beers being released these days with the exact ingredients listed on the bottle. I find this very interesting and quite informative really. For those brewers willing to reveal their ingredients as you mentioned is great - I think it is unlikely somebody will go out and try to copy and replicate their exact beer and sell it themselves.

I think brewing is in a league of its own. People can use a recipe from any beer available on the market and tweak it over time, experiment, and that is no doubt when brewers come up with some winners and go on to try from scratch (at a much lower level of brewing I'm talking about, not commercial).

I do realise the exact copyright procedures etc for brewing are not going to be the same as the music industry, but in my mind this is where I began to think about the brewing side of things, from a legal perspective.

I'm one of the many who would one day like to run their own bar/brewery, so anything I can learn at this stage is only a step forward.
 

stux

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I'm happy to let folks know what ingredients I use in my beers, but the specific amounts, then thats a different kettle of fish.
Or kettle of wort as the case may be ;)
 

datou

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My understanding is that if you write the recipe down, like in Jamil's book for example, the page layout, descriptions, pictures etc. are all covered by copyright. The actual ingredients list and quantities are not. So you could not photocopy Jamil's book and publish it yourself. You could however take the ingredients, quantities and mash temps, write your own description of the process to brew the beer, put it in your own format and make your own book if you wanted to. You'd be a jerk, but I'm pretty sure you'd be a legal one.

And there is nothing to stop you brewing Jamil's recipes straight from the book and selling them from your brewery if you so desire.
 

bigfridge

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/// is spot on as when you think about it there is only a limited range of raw material supplies available in Australia so it is not difficult for any trained brewer to know the essence of any beer produced locally.

As one Belgian brewer is quoted in Brew Like a Monk:

"You have our malts, you have our yeast, hops and water - but you don't have our beer!"

It is more trademarked name, packaging and the overall concept that is protected by IP laws. So you couldn't relase a Very Bitter beeer marketed as VB, or a Coppers Sparkling Ale released with a red label and a picture of a Policeman.

To return to your music analogy, the raw ingredients and recipe are more like the musical instrucments on which the brewer plays their tune, rather than the tune itself.

HTH,
Dave
 

///

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I do taste training for our staff, Iuse a triangle test with 2 commercial domestic lagers. The differents is miniscule between the 2. Tiny amounts of bitterness, colour, flavour. Most of the time I get one as more metallic than the other ... so if one where to go down the route of copyright it could not stand with both trying to be so close to each other.
 

hsb

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I like the BLAM quote.
You can't copyright an actual recipe, just all the branding, and the copyright on the publishing.
What you can do is secure proprietary ingredients, like we're seeing with Amarillo.
 

Maheel

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There are some Breweries for example that own "older" recipes, and they have to brew it within a certain time frame before they relinquish the right to the material, and someone else can come in and apply to be the new owner of the beer/recipe etc..
i thought that was the name of the beer not the recipe there was someone trying to get old beers for their brewery recently

i wonder if like those dodgy perfumes you can label it "just smells / tastes like VB"
 

shaunous

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Im not sure the legalities around it,
But Thunderroad Brewery have remade Grafton Bitter, which was made in Grafton at the Tooheys Brewery. They are claiming its the same beer that was once sold and brewed there, and are looking to use the old brewery for cold storage so they can distribute out of it instead of just using there Melbourne facilities. Rumours are the actual recipe was lost but who knows. Its been all through the local papers, and a couple of Melbournes also.

http://www.thunderroadbrewing.com/beer/gra...bitter-nsw-only

On a side note, has anyone ever had any of their beers? Are they any good?

Shaun...
 

labels

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It is more trademarked name, packaging and the overall concept that is protected by IP laws. So you couldn't relase a Very Bitter beeer marketed as VB, or a Coppers Sparkling Ale released with a red label and a picture of a Policeman.

To return to your music analogy, the raw ingredients and recipe are more like the musical instrucments on which the brewer plays their tune, rather than the tune itself.

HTH,
Dave
An intersesting an accurate analogy. I've often wondered about XXXX beer. The 'x' symbol is old fashioned and was used to signify the strength of the beer. Is this still generic enough that another brewer could also call his beer by the 'x' name? to describe the strength of the beer? My take is you would probably win but only after departing with a million dollars in legal fees but only because of the term is so extremeley generic.
 

carniebrew

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There are similarities in related industries, such as the whole "Champagne" thing we went through a couple of decades ago. Everyone was using "mthode champenoise" with virtually identical ingredients and calling it Champagne. Until the frenchies got upset and started suing everyone...it wasn't to stop them from cloning the style, but from using the name.

Similarly more recently with Dick Smith, he copied Tim Tams chocky biscuits almost exactly, and called them Temptins (or something like that). Arnotts sued him, again not for copying the biscuit, but for using branding that looked too similar to the Tim Tam logo. IIRC, they won, Dick Smith was allowed to keep the name, but had to change the logo design to be discernibly different from Tim Tams. I can still remember the protester's signs out the front of the court that day "Arnotts keep your hands off our Dick".

The same will apply to beer, you couldn't be successfully sued for using similar or even identical ingredients, especially given how few ingredients are in beer. But if you tried to pass your beer off as someone else's through the use of similar branding, it would be a clear breach and quickly shut down.
 

drew9242

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An intersesting an accurate analogy. I've often wondered about XXXX beer. The 'x' symbol is old fashioned and was used to signify the strength of the beer. Is this still generic enough that another brewer could also call his beer by the 'x' name? to describe the strength of the beer? My take is you would probably win but only after departing with a million dollars in legal fees but only because of the term is so extremeley generic.
Boags sell a xxx ale. I don't think you would get away with a xxxx name though.
 

bum

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You can trademark a smell under Australian law though. Would be some form of protecting a particular brew if one were so inclined.
 

Feldon

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Need to understand the difference between copyright, trademarks, registered design, patents - all of which comprise that tangled area of law called intellectual property.

Copyright relates to 'works' - they can be written works, painted works, the code of a computer program, the musical score of a song, a photograph You don't have to go out and register your copyright (not here in Oz, anyway). Your copyright in a 'work' exists as the words, paint strokes etc. leave your pen/keyboard/brush. Instantly.
As far a brewing goes, previous posters are right in saying that copying a published recipe is illegal without the copyright holders permission. But brewing from the recipe is not a breach of copyright. Stealing a recipe is another thing.

Trademarks are probably more important to brewers. After all, most punters buy labels, not contents. A trademark is your brand and can be just a name but can include other aspects such as symbols, fonts etc. A trademark must be registered (see http://www.ipaustralia.gov.au/get-the-righ...or-a-trade-mark ), and to be registered they must possess 'novelty' - ie. be new, different, not generic. You couldn't trademark the name 'Ale' as the name of your beer because its not novel - its in common use and has been for centuries.

You could probably not trademark the name 'Dr Smurto's Golden Ale' either, for example, because its frequent use in this web site has possibly destroyed its novelty. Doesn't mean that you couldn't go ahead and sell a beer with this name, just that every other brewer could do the same as well and you can't stop them. So you would lose your unique identity in the market. Anyway, Dr Smurto could perhaps sue for breach of his copyright. After all, he first penned the name (at which point in time his copyright came into existence), and he and his heirs own copyright on it for something like 50 years (something like that) after his decease.

There's Registered Design too. Think of the Coco Cola brand design. And patents which do not (as is commonly thought) protect the ownership of ideas, but protect ownership of novel processes and methods - eg. a better way to trap a mouse, although mousetraps are not new.
 

shaunous

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Boags sell a xxx ale. I don't think you would get away with a xxxx name though.
XXXX sell a XXX beer, only at their brewery. Darkish beer, cant remember it properly, was pretty hammered before we even started the tour, but they gave it to us at the end.

It couldnt have tasted good, when we left all the tables where left with half to full glasses of the XXX beer they handed out.
 

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