17 November 2009

FOODOPI - coming soon to a nation near you!

IP news from France. My translation probably isn't perfect. There are other things to worry about, too.

Watching the evilly smug faces of recording industry executives following France's recent adoption of Hadopi, restaurant owners have decided they deserved a slice of the IP pie, too. Watch out for the new law to be introduced later this year: FOODOPI!

Restaurant managers, owners, and chefs who have dedicated years of their talent, skill, and secret sauce to creating irresistible mouthwatering dishes have watched in dismay as food pirates illegally copy their ideas, recreating such classics as Ratatouille, Chicken Curry with Rice, and Spaghetti Bolognese with impunity in their own homes.

This is all going to change and the impoverished actors of the restauration industry will finally see their hard work rewarded and protected. The new FOODOPI law, if adopted, will allow restaurant industry executives name individuals suspected of recipe pirating and, after three warnings, those individuals will be prohibited from cooking for a length of time varying from six months to ten years.

Although the lack of judicial review during the prohibition process has raised concerns among civil liberties groups, a spokesperson for a French restaurateur's association observed "the justice system is already overstretched and it makes no sense to burden it even further. This law is a huge win for the public, ensuring continued innovation in the food service industry. It would be a disservice to the public and a drain on limited taxpayer resources to push this through the courts."

A spokesperson for a US-based organisation conducting cutting-edge research on genetic improvement of popular crops said while they would vigourously defend their IP in France under this new law, "currently we have no intention of prosecuting the most widespread violation of our intellectual property: the use of sodium chloride as a food additive for flavour enhancement". [A lawyer friend has advised me that this patent may not be applicable in France anyway as the use of "table salt" (to use pirate jargon) is a popular custom in this country, dating back centuries - ed.]

While the details of the new system have yet to be worked out, a leaked document obtained by this site indicates some of the strategies being considered -

  • Government-mandated cooking equipment for all new domestic kitchen installations with remote sensing equipment for ambient atmospheric analysis, allowing FOODOPI investigators detect potential violations of food industry IP by comparing chemicals and food traces in the air with a database of protected recipes.
  • Food retailers will report purchases to a central database that will apply sophisticated pattern-matching algorithms to identify individuals who may be planning IP violations. As an example, the document describes a hypothetical shopper in the process of acquiring 500g basmati rice, 8 chicken thighs, unflavoured yoghurt, turmeric, ginger, and garlic. The proposed pattern-matching software would flag this shopper as a potential pirate about to prepare Chicken Curry with Rice for 4.
  • Repeat offenders would ultimately have all kitchen equipment confiscated and perhaps have a camera installed in their homes to deter future violations

The document also noted some concerns of IP holders, including the threat of violations by picknickers and people using obsolete or camping equipment, where monitoring systems are less feasible.

Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

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