Man Attempts to Copyright Chicken Sandwich for $10 Million — and Fails
Norberto Colón Lorenzana has earned his place in the annals of misguided lawsuits.
Colón was suing to have himself recognized as the lawful “author” of the “Pechu Sandwich,” sold at Church’s Chicken restaurants in Puerto Rico beginning in 1991. He was seeking “all the earnings produced by his creation” from his former employer, the South American Restaurant Corporation — a sum of $10 million.
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“The sandwich consists of a fried chicken breast patty, lettuce, tomato, American cheese, and garlic mayonnaise on a bun,” Chief Judge Jeffrey Howard of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit wrote. “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,” he added.
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The Copyright Act extends to literary works, musical works, dramatic works, sound recordings, architectural works, and a few other categories. Perhaps in a bold new future, sandwiches will be one of them, perhaps not. But if that day ever comes, we’ll have Norberto Colón Lorenzana to thank as a bold pioneer.
—Alex Heigl, @alexheigl