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Who Owns a Baker's Recipes?


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Oh Annie, I'm so happy that it's benign!!! Now make sure you keep feeling those boobs! :biggrin: Once a year doctor's visits or mamograms just don't catch everything.

Don't wait for extraordinary opportunities. Seize common occasions and make them great. Orison Swett Marden

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Annie, even though we have never met, I have been following your thread with great interest, and rooting for you all the way.

My mother always said that when you have to make an important decisions, think about what you will regret five years down the road and choose accordingly. I do not think that you would ever regret leaving those recipes behind.

I think that the return of your cat and your excellent medical report (keep up those monthly self-exams!) are an omen of good things to come for you.

Thanks so much for posting the good news,

Ellen (another one!)

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“Who loves a garden, loves a greenhouse too.” - William Cowper, The Task, Book Three


"Not knowing the scope of your own ignorance is part of the human condition...The first rule of the Dunning-Kruger club is you don’t know you’re a member of the Dunning-Kruger club.” - psychologist David Dunning


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Hey, thanks for all the warm wishes, everyone!

It's good to know I'll be around a few more years. Not that I'm a fatalist or anything.

But two weeks of uncertainty about your health makes you look at things a little bit


Yes, in the grand scheme of things, crappy cookies are pretty low on the Totem Pole.

But I feel it is my "purpose" to make yummy things, so I will fight the good fight to keep

those cookies as high quality as they can possibly be. Although I'm down to a three day

workweek, the three days I work are (pardon the expression) "balls to the wall"! As I sort

of figured it would be, I'm cramming 5 days of work into three. This is because my new crew,

is, well, new, and they aren't up to speed in more ways than one. Also my boss, no matter how

busy we are, works at only one speed, and I would call that speed "glacial"; as in, he works

marginally faster than a glacier. Even though he's clearly aware of how much business we're

doing, it's like he STILL doesn't have a clue how long it will take to get any particular task done.

Then later, he always marvels at how long it took to wrap and label 50 dozen cookies.


You know, I could write a pretty funny sitcom about that kitchen and the characters in it.

No wait, we'd be GREAT for a reality show....I'm not kidding.

Or maybe I'll make a name for myself writing a book about my adventures (a la Bourdain and

Kitchen Confidential) 'cept I'd probably call mine "Kitchen Dysfunctional". :raz:

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Some intellectual property comments.

Patents can apply to truly novel food production techniques, and even recipes, but it is highly unlikely that one could patent conventional pastry recipes.

As an example of a patentable food product, here is a US patent on using a special protein called "anti-freeze protein" originally found in arctic fish to keep their blood from freezing. The protein can be used in ice cream to improve the texture. Many jokes are possible about how this sounds rather fishy.... and to top it off the inventors work for the Good Humor ice cream company.

However, similar proteins are found in winter wheat, which certainly sounds more appetizing.

Here is a US patent on making Dippin' Dots - ice cream particles frozen in liquid nitrogen. This is clearly a pastry technique, and there is some overlap between this and the sort of techniques innovative chefs like Homaru Cantu, Wylie Dufresne and Sam Mason, Ferran Adria or Heston Blumenthal do.

Really novel ideas like this can be patented, but having a particular combination of traditional ingredients is not going to result in a patent. In addition, it is very expensive - generally at least $10,000 and often a multiple of that. Unless there is high volume industrial scale usage - like Good Humor or Dippin' Dots, it is not worth it.

Copyright covers some aspect of recipes - you can't just copy somebody else's cookbook for example and claim it as your own. You certainly can USE the recipes however - that is implicit in offering the book for sale and would be covered by the "fair use" doctrine. However, exactly how far you can take fair use is controversal. Google is engaged in lawsuits with book publishers about topics related to this.

Whether an employee of a bakery can destroy or take a written set of recipes that they developed while an employee is complicated, and an attorney should be consulted. On one hand, unless your contract included an intellectual property clause (as a previous post mentioned) your employer probably cannot claim to own any intellectual property. On the other hand, an employer could argue that maintaining a list of recipes on site is part of the job - particularly of a senior employee managing others, so the employee can't just take it away precipitously and leave their production in the lurch.

In this case there are plenty of other factors. I doubt that intellectual property law is really the key issue. If the quality is going down the tubes, then even leaving the recipes isn't really going to matter, is it?


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  • 1 month later...

Ok, I'm resurrecting this thread because I think today was the FINAL straw. That's it, I'm done....I'm outta there. For sure this time!!!!

Know what happened today? Yesterday, I baked off a few dozen cookies to cover some ultra early orders for this morning. When I got into work this morning (I'm the first one in), I saw 2 dozen of my Gingersnaps IN THE GARBAGE CAN OUTSIDE!!! What the???? So, when my boss came in, I asked him why the cookies were in the garbage. He said his wife decided they were overbaked. What the????? She trashed them. First, they weren't overbaked. Second, she deliberately threw them away after I'd left for the day......third, she didn't even leave me a note telling me they were in the garbage, so if I hadn't been so observant and seen them actually in the garbage can, I would have discovered that I was 2 dozen short at a point where I wouldn't have been able to get the order out on time. Of course my boss is married to the woman, so even though I may be totally right, he's pussywhipped enough that he'll never stand up for me to her. Also, what they hell are they THINKING that I'm actually going to pass off burnt cookies to a customer? I mean, THAT'S what I've been bitching about all this time.....that THEY are the ones who pass off the crappy product! The absolute bizarreness of this whole situation is making me tear my hair out. I even fished a cookie out of the trash (they are wrapped, don't worry) to bring home to my husband. I told him the story and fed him the cookie. He was amazed. He said to me, "You've GOT to get out of there." He's right. I know he's right. It's sad though......I actually like my boss....although pussywhipped, he's a sweet man......it'll just be a huge hardship for him when I leave.....he doesn't deserve that. I like my other co-workers too........we have some fun coffee breaks together. For me, quitting a job is like a divorce....it's like I have no other choice to preserve my mental health.

Why are people in the restaurant business so dysfunctional and f*&cked up??? (Myself included.) :sad:

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Annie, I just have read the entire thread all at one go. I would like to say that I am glad that you're finally leaving. You certainly don't need to stay in that toxic environment. ((((hugs)))

Doddie aka Domestic Goddess

"Nobody loves pork more than a Filipino"

eGFoodblog: Adobo and Fried Chicken in Korea

The dark side... my own blog: A Box of Jalapenos

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Copyright covers some aspect of recipes - you can't just copy somebody else's cookbook for example and claim it as your own.    You certainly can USE the recipes however - that is implicit in offering the book for sale and would be covered by the "fair use" doctrine.  However, exactly how far you can take fair use is controversal.  Google is engaged in lawsuits with book publishers about topics related to this.

Here is something I found the other day that relates to recipes and copyrights;


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The wife is never going to leave; she is always going to second guess you and make your life miserable while you are there. Sounds to me as if she's threatened by your skill and ability and needs to restore the pecking order every so often with something stupid like throwing out a perfectly good batch of cookies.

Take your recipes and get outta there!

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Sometimes a divorce is much better than living in a toxic environment. If going to work doesn't make you happy inside (despite underlying aggravations, frustrations, f-ups, politics, etc.) really happy inside, then it's time to go to a different work environment.

Only you can decide when the right moment is -- after fits and starts and contemplation and vacillating between yes and no -- but if you've reached that right point, go, don't look back, and find your new gig.

Best of Luck!

Cheryl, The Sweet Side
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Honest to God-- yesterday I was wondering what was going on with you but I forgot to post it-- some middle-aged mind fog I guess. That is just amazing about your cookies being thrown out. I'm sitting here shaking my head over the amazingness of it....... Yikes! Whatever you decide to do, I hope all goes well for you. Maybe the luck with your biopsy and kitty will follow you with a new job. Oh, and if I remember right from your earlier posts, if you came into that job with your own recipes, then I'd say you're certainly entitled to take them with you-- especially after how your product's been treated! Good luck!

"Fat is money." (Per a cracklings maker shown on Dirty Jobs.)
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As far as I'm concerned, I think that you should not leave the bakery without their product. If they sell macaroons and gingersnaps, they should have a macaroon and gingersnap recipe. It does not have to be yours, it just has to be a recipe.

Or just leave them a Betty Crocker cookbook. They would probably be happy with that. Then leave and never look back.

Screw it. It's a Butterball.
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I don't know, I have a bit different take on this. I've worked for others, I've worked for myself. She's the boss's wife. She gets to do what she wants, they pay the bills. I mean for me, my ego doesn't take a back seat because it's not even in the car. I leave my ego at home when I'm working for someone else. Not my self worth, my ego. I know that there are other issues for you there, Anne, but me, I just think that's par for the working for somebody else course. They sign the checks they have free reign.

Now what happened wasn't cool, wasn't professional, wasn't nice but manager/owners always complain about 'they can't find any good help' worker bees complain about shitty supervisors/owners.

It's a trade off. You wanna keep your cookies outa the trash, open your own place. You want the ease and comfort of arriving at work and getting a check, sometimes your cookies are gonna get lobbed in the can. There's underlying causes for this that maybe/maybe not can be improved.

Horror stories abound in all fields. You still have a pretty sweet deal overall.

You have to make a rational judgement when you're not upset. You work for somebody and whether they are qualified or not, they still have the final word. Yeah, it sucks.

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Um.... while this may be the straw that broke the camel's back... and I'm sure your cookies were perfectly fine, the only person that is more powerful than the boss is the boss's wife... so I wouldn't let it get you down more than that... If you were the boss's wife I'm sure you wouldn't think of the pastry chef's feelings or time etc...she probably figures that you are still being paid for your time, so what's the big deal. I understand your frustration, and I would be pissed too... just trying to see through her eyes...

Don't waste your time or time will waste you - Muse

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I also agree this incident is hardly worth quitting over.

Believe me, I don't quit jobs over "one incident". You wouldn't believe the stuff I've let roll off my back.....for well over a year. This is the straw that broke the camel's back, so to speak.

I agree that when you own a business, you get the final say in everything.....after all, it's your business. BUT. I don't think it's unreasonable for me to expect that they should act professionally and treat me with respect. That's not asking for the moon. I come from a "big city" environment,

where you would get your ass chewed for the stuff my boss's wife pulls in that kitchen. She is

immature, and unprofessional, and is completely unable to see beyond her petty childish issues.

If she is so concerned about running a quality shop she seriously needs to grow up.

I'm not about to stick around and be her kindergarten teacher.

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Your boss has a cranky wife and poor business skills, you have a supportive spouse and excellent professional skills.

You win.

Happy Feasting

Janet (a.k.a The Old Foodie)

My Blog "The Old Foodie" gives you a short food history story each weekday day, always with a historic recipe, and sometimes a historic menu.

My email address is: theoldfoodie@fastmail.fm

Anything is bearable if you can make a story out of it. N. Scott Momaday

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