Great Moments in Jurisprudence: Chicken Sandwiches Uncopyrightable

August 25th, 2015

Filed Under: cheese, fried chicken, lettuce, miscellaneous, tomato with 0 Comments

(h/t Ars Technica)

The sandwich in this picture is uncopyrightable. The picture itself, on the other hand, is absolutely copyrightable. The use of the picture here, though, is solely for the purpose of commenting on a highly newsworthy matter of great social import, to wit, the copyrightability or lack thereof of sandwiches, and to serve as an educational illustration of the sandwich at issue in the litigation in question.

The sandwich in this picture is uncopyrightable. The picture itself, on the other hand, is absolutely copyrightable. The use of the picture here, though, is solely for the purpose of commenting on a highly newsworthy matter of great social import, to wit, the copyrightability or lack thereof of sandwiches, and to serve as an educational illustration of the sandwich at issue in the litigation in question.

Last Friday, the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit issued a decision in an appeal from the District of Puerto Rico. The plaintiffs essentially claimed that South American Restaurants Corp., which is among other things a Church’s Chicken franchisee and a seemingly misnamed entity (as Puerto Rico is not in South America), owed them for the continued use of a sandwich recipe that one of them concocted while working there. The sandwich, which is called the “Pechusandwich” and/or the “Pechu Sandwich”, “consists of a fried chicken breast patty, lettuce, tomato, American cheese, and garlic mayonnaise on a bun.”

As the appeals court put it:

Congress has enumerated eight categories of works available for copyright protection:

(1) literary works; (2) musical works, including any accompanying words; (3) dramatic works, including any accompanying music; (4) pantomimes and choreographic works; (5) pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works; (6) motion pictures and other audiovisual works; (7) sound recordings; and (8) architectural works.

17 U.S.C. § 102(a).

Contrary to Colón’s protests on appeal, the district court properly determined that a chicken sandwich is not eligible for copyright protection. This makes good sense; neither the recipe nor the name Pechu Sandwich fits any of the eligible categories and, therefore, protection under the Copyright Act is unwarranted. 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.

If you’re curious, if the court had held that sandwich recipes are copyright-eligible, the [almost certain] existence of previous sandwich recipes identical to the one at issue wouldn’t have hurt the plaintiffs’ case. (Or, at least, it wouldn’t necessarily. Though the recipe might well have been considered a work for hire, and then they could have lost on that point.) Unlike with patents, where (as John Carmack can tell you) coming up with something yourself independently isn’t a defense to infringement, where copyrights are concerned, if you didn’t copy, you didn’t infringe. (But, of course, nothing is ever simple; courts can sometimes infer copying via the principle of “striking similarity“.)

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Döner Kebap

July 28th, 2009

Filed Under: curry sauce, kebab, lettuce, onion, tomato, yogurt sauce with 1 Comment

Döner Kebap

As Wikipedia tells it, World War II depleted Germany’s manpower to the extent that, desperate for labor, the country invited large numbers of Turks to fill the gaps. These Turks brought their own cuisine, which includes lamb roasted on a vertical spit with a delectable blend of herbs and spices, served on bread of some sort along with various vegetables and sauces. This dish is referred to as Döner Kebap (or Kebab).

Those Turks, or their descendents or others like them, still serve Döner Kebap in Germany today, including in downtown Munich. And when you taste one, it’s no wonder the food has been so long-lived.

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Tobacco Quay

April 28th, 2009

Filed Under: basil, lettuce, mozzarella, onion, provolone, toasted, tomato, tuna salad with 0 Comments

04-28-09_1324-sandwich

Another day, another exam. Ho-hum. The parol evidence rule(s); third-party beneficiaries; claims, defenses, and remedies under the UCC? Who cares — I’ve got this tasty “Tobacco Quay” sandwich from the overpriced deli by school. It’s basically just tuna salad, but it’s very well made.

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Hesburger’s Rukkifileeburger

July 23rd, 2008

Filed Under: mayonnaise, onion, pork cutlet, tomato with 5 Comments

Delicious!

Back in May, my family went on a trip to Estonia. While there, I had the opportunity to eat at places one does not generally eat at in the United States.

For example, Hesburger. A fast-food joint, not unlike the places we know of with kingly burgers or burgers owned by a clown. However, as Hesburger is more of a European thing, they can have some interesting things there.

This sandwich is the “Rukkifileeburger”, which is Estonian for “Rye fillet burger”. Adding the “burger” on the end is a little misleading, since it contains a pork fillet of some sort, and not a meat patty we generally associate with burgers.

Anyway, the main ingredients are the pork, lettuce, tomatoes, and onion rings, with some manner of special sauce (“paprika mayo” apparently), all between two slices of dark rye bread. Rye bread is more popular in some European countries, so Hesburger decided to offer rye sandwiches in their burger joints, I guess.

The sandwich was a little better than I expected, but I wasn’t really expecting much. The rye bread was interesting… I expected slices of a loaf of rye, but it’s more like one of those rectangular shaped chicken sandwiches you might find in fast food places here in the US. Except instead of whatever bun they’d use here, it was rye bread.

Still, it could’ve been better. I mean, this is fast food we’re talkin’ here. Fast food isn’t well known for the greatest of sandwiches. But I greatly support unusual sandwich choices in places, and this gave me a chance to write about rye-fillet-burgers. I’d eat another if I get the chance, though largely for the novelty of eating an odd sandwich like this in a fast food place.

Overhead picture Alternate angle

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Veggie Fajita Melt

August 21st, 2007

Filed Under: lettuce, onion, tomato, vegetables with 0 Comments

Veggie Fajita Melt

The Veggie Fajita Melt. Picked it up after quite a complicated quest to find an ATM, in order to get out of a parking lot… Figured I deserved a break.

It’s got lettuce, tomato, guacamole, peppers, and some other stuff. I’m not sure on the cheese. I think it was provolone… It was some manner of white cheese anyway. There might’ve been a little sauce added, too. It was a little drippy.

Anyway, the advertisement looked different from the sandwich itself, of course, but it looked like it had a different balance of ingredients. I was expecting a sandwich consisting of more peppers and onions, but I got one with more guacamole. I didn’t even notice guacamole in the ad until I looked again after eating it. It was actually still pretty good, to be honest, and was a nice change of pace from normal sandwiches I might eat. Don’t often have ones with guacamole. It made it pretty interesting.

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Chicken Explosion

August 20th, 2007

Filed Under: bacon, lettuce, onion, tomato with 0 Comments

Chicken Explosion

Here’s a subwich I got in mid-July, same weekend as Otakon.

My friend came up from Florida, and we went to the mall at some point, and stopped by the food court, where I picked up this tasty sandwich. I mostly got it because of the ridiculous name.

It’s been a while since I actually ate it, so I don’t remember all of what’s in it. But I remember it tasted alright.

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Chicken salad—with bacon.

August 6th, 2007

Filed Under: bacon, chicken salad, lettuce, tomato with 0 Comments

Chicken salad—with bacon.
This was rather a delicious sandwich, and quite substantial as well—the picture only shows you two of the four quarters. Should be pretty self-explanatory.

I guess you could even call it a BLT with chicken salad, rather than a chicken salad sandwich with bacon, but that raises the issue of which meat is primary and which is secondary. Bacon is usually relegated to second fiddle, acting as some kind of modifier (e.g., “cheesesteak [with bacon]”, “[bacon] cheeseburger”, “[baconated] manwich”); unless it’s the sole meat (“BLT”) or present in ridiculous and attention-whoring quantities (“Wendy’s Baconator”). In this case, I could go either way. Chicken salad is normally a primary meat, and it would be perfectly reasonable to call bacon an adjunct; but the the third bun in this sandwich performs an interesting function, separating the chicken salad from what would otherwise be a complete and fully-formed BLT. So it’s really almost two sandwiches in one, conjoined twins sharing a common bun.

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California chicken club.

June 13th, 2007

Filed Under: lettuce, tomato with 0 Comments

California chicken club.

Reasonably tasty. I think you get more meat if you order it as a wrap, though.

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Mass-produced love

May 31st, 2007

Filed Under: ham, lettuce, mayonnaise, onion, provolone, tomato with 0 Comments

Subway BMT

A perfectly competent sandwich, if nothing particularly special. Made on an assembly line.

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Chicken salad.

May 30th, 2007

Filed Under: chicken salad, lettuce, tomato with 0 Comments

Chicken salad.

Chicken salad.

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