Hypothetical scenario: Mr. Peter creates a piece of know-how, e.g. a unique pizza recipe.

  1. Can he sell the recipe to more than one company?

  2. What is called a type of contract that enables multiple different companies to be allowed to use Mr. Peter's recipe for making a pizza according to his recipe commercially?

Mr. Peter lives in the European Union.

(It is different comparing to selling a car. Once a car is sold, it cannot be sold to other people from the original owner.)

Thank you.

  • 3
    In a lot of countries food recipes are forbidden from being intellectual property. That know-how cannot be owned by Mr. Peter. However, Mr. Peter is within his rights to hide any information from other people including that recipe. Therefore, unlike music, stories, movie scripts etc. Mr. Peter must rely on trade secret laws to protect his recipe since it can neither be copyrighted nor patented. A contract that protects trade secrets is simply a non-disclosure agreement.
    – slebetman
    Nov 3, 2022 at 5:22
  • @slebetman I don't like the phrase "forbidden from being intellectual property." Recipes are intellectual property by the dictionary definition, and they can even be protected as trade secrets and by patents. What they are not is copyrightable.
    – A. R.
    Nov 3, 2022 at 18:31
  • 1
    @AndrewRay intellectual property is a recently arisen vague catch-all term for a bunch of separate legal doctrines around intangible products. There's no single common body of law regarding intellectual property. There are separate independent areas like trademark, patents, and copyright.
    – barbecue
    Nov 3, 2022 at 19:02

1 Answer 1


I'll ignore whether a recipe is actually a good example, but I assume you're asking how a person who owns the exclusive rights to copy a thing (copyright) or to use a thing (patent) can allow multiple other entities to copy or use the thing.

This is possible by granting each a non-exclusive licence.

In the case that the piece of knowledge is not protected by any intellectual property regime, the holder of the information could just treat it as a secret. The information holder could enter into contracts to sell that information to various entities, each promising in return not to further disclose that information. This is the case for lots of sports data.

  • 3
    Yes, it's essentially the same thing as writing a song and letting multiple listen to it.
    – bdb484
    Nov 2, 2022 at 14:13
  • 8
    Side note, if you sell a license that is exclusive, then that makes selling a license to anyone else a breach of contract. If your buyer wants their license to be exclusive, the loss of potential other license sales is good reason to charge a much higher price for it. Pay close attention to the presence or absence of the word "exclusive" in licensing contracts.
    – Douglas
    Nov 2, 2022 at 23:12
  • 3
    Side note to the side note, an exclusive licence doesn't automatically preclude the licensee from on-selling the work to multiple other entities. Just because you are only able to provide it to one entity, doesn't mean they automatically can't redistribute to others as they see fit. Nov 3, 2022 at 4:44
  • 1
    @GregoryCurrie That's right. Exclusion refers to what the licensor is allowed to do. The license terms should state what the licensee is allowed to do, including whether they can sublicense it.
    – Barmar
    Nov 3, 2022 at 13:38

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