Why Didn't Coca-Cola File A Patent On It's Zillion Dollar Recipe?
I spend a lot of time talking about how inventors and entrepreneurs should initially spend their hard earned dollars on product development and stay clear of expensive patent filings. After all, when World Patent Marketing develops a new product idea, we start with an inexpensive provisional patent filing and focus on smart product building. But does it ever make sense not to file a patent at all?
I tried to find the patent for the Coca-Cola recipe a few months ago but couldn't. I couldn't believe that Coca-Cola did not protect its zillion dollar recipe. I'm a big fan of the company so I did the research.
As far back as the late 1800s, Coca-Cola was concerned about its recipe being stolen. They destroyed all the paper work and created secret codes for the ingedients. Rumor had it that only two people knew the recipe and they wouldn't take the risk of travelling on the same day. Coca-Cola took the privacy of its recipe so seriously that it pulled out of India for almost 20 years to avoid disclosing its recipe to the Indian government. India's population is over 1 billion. I looked it up.
The folks at Coca Cola made the decision to keep the recipe a trade secret. They didn't want to take the risk of filing for a patent. A patent provides protection but it also requires disclosure. They didn't want their competitors reverse engineering a similar drink and competing head on. The company didn't have any legal protection for the recipe and couldn't care less. They wanted it to be a secret and it became one of the greatest secrets of all time.
Lets think about what could have happenned if Coca-Cola actually filed the patent back in 1886. The patent protection would have expired by 1906 and every competitor would have had the right to use the recipe and distribute a drink with the same exact formula. It is safe to say that the Coca-Cola company wouldn't be the mega corporation and iconic brand that it is today.
In 2012, the company moved the recipe from a vault at Sun Trust Bank where it sat for 86 years to the World of Coca-Cola headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia. "The move of the Coca-Cola secret formula is a historic moment for the company," says Phil Mooney, director of archives, The Coca-Cola Company. "The company has always gone to great lengths to protect it, and now by safeguarding it at the World of Coca-Cola, we can share its legendary legacy with people around the world."
So what's my point? I am not sure I really have one. It just seemed like a real interesting story to write about at 2 AM. I'm going to have a Coke now and make plans to take my kids to The World of Coca Cola in a few weeks for a visit.
If you have any great ideas, we would love to see them. Click Submit Your Idea. We don't care if you get a patent or not. We just want awesome ideas!
And remember - Coke is it!