Do IP Protections Extend to Meat?

Intellectual property law generally does not protect recipes. But what about a cut of steak?

Oklahoma State University created a buzz when it revealed that it is working to patent a new cut of steak.  Jacob Nelson, a “value-added meat-processing specialist” at the university’s Robert M. Kerr Food & Agricultural Products Center, has created a new cut of steak called the “Vegas Strip Steak.” It allegedly rivals the New York Strip in terms of flavor and tenderness.

After discovering what they call “the latest and perhaps last steak to be found on the beef carcass,” the university is now seeking to protect it. According to Nelson, “the patent actually claims the kind of knife strokes that you make in order to create this cut of meat.”

While patenting a steak may seem ridiculous at first blush, it may have some validity. As Slate Magazine points out, the patent would involve a process — “an algorithm for butchering a cow” — rather than a product.

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