Friday, July 24, 2015

A classic case of IP theft at a bakery

From my midnight wanderings, a story of master batch record theft in March in the New York Times
...“It creates its own frenzy,” said Rebecca Flint Marx, editor of San Francisco Magazine’s food section, who noted that not only are cruffins a cult item — and at $4.50, relatively affordable — but they are also camera-ready, as photos on Instagram attest. Fillings include caramel, strawberry milkshake or Fluffernutter cream (among other flavors), depending on Mr. Stephen’s mood. 
Now, the tempting sweet may have inspired a crime. Overnight last week, a thief stole the recipe for cruffins, and Mr. Stephen’s 230 other recipes, from binders in the bakery’s kitchen. Nothing else in the store was touched: not money, valuable baking equipment, an iPad or other computers. And while Mr. Stephen has copies of the recipes on his office computer, and the store opened almost on time the next morning, he was understandably upset.... 
...The recipe theft was noticed at 3 a.m. on Feb. 27, when Sarah Auger, a pastry maker from Vermont who came here to join the food movement, reported to work and saw that the front door to the store was unlocked. A co-worker opened one of the kitchen’s black binders looking for the recipe for cardamom apple scones, but it was empty. The two searched the four other recipe binders, and all their pages were missing, too. At 3:15 a.m., Ms. Auger texted Mr. Stephen, who was sleeping: “Hey, sorry to bother you, but do you have recipes? None of them are in the binders, and we need the scone recipe.” 
Mr. Stephen woke up, read the text and rushed to the bakery. “I’d locked the door the night before, that’s for sure,” he recalled. Once in his shop, he reached for the binders. “I could feel they were empty,” he said...
What is interesting is that very few people believe that a competitor was the thief - so who was it?

In my time in the chemical manufacturing industry, I've yet to see classic IP theft of this sort, i.e. stolen lab notebooks. There are, of course, cases where the copies of the maps leave the boat in people's heads or their flash drives, but that's a different matter.  


  1. Closest thing I've seen: My PhD advisor did an industrial post-doc with a major chem company back in the 80's and had photocopies of his old lab notebook pages there. No real chance of profiting off of them, just had them for reference back to what he did.

  2. Recipe binders all out in the open like that? Seems like their IP security strategy was a little, uh, half-baked. *rimshot*