Can a cookie brand use my contest entered flavor without compensating me?

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Can a cookie brand use my contest entered flavor without compensating me?

Last year a major cookie brand had a name a new flavor contest. You were able to enter 1 new

flavor suggestion per day for a certain period. I submitted 1 new entry per day during the contest. The contest had awards from $50,000 to $500,000 depending on how far your entry made it in the competition. Recently, I noticed one of their 3 final flavors was Pina Colada and I even found them on the shelves at a national retailer. About 9 months ago, I submitted this exact flavor entry and obviously they used it but did not contact me or compensate me. I believe the minimum award was $50,000. I am highly disappointed and have even asked them via email but no reply to date. Do I have a case and can I sue them or how can I receive my due compensation for submitting the entry they used? BTW, not that it matters, but I am a US Army Veteran and was actually homeless at the time and had to use a store’s free wi-fi daily in hopes of winning some money and remedying my homeless situation. I would appreciate any help/advice you could give.

Asked on February 25, 2018 under Business Law, Arkansas

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

It is unlikely that you can prove a right to compensation for a "pina colada" flavor. To be entitled to money, you'd have to prove both of the following:
1) They actually used *your* submission and did not come up with pina colada on their own or have it suggested by another person. Clearly, if you were not the source of the flavor, under no circumstances would you be entitled to compensation. (And Pina Colada is common enough or well-known enough that it is not unlikely that they had the flavor from some other source.)
2) Under the terms of the contest (including all the "fine print"), if this was in fact based on your entry, that you had a clear an unequivocal right to compensation.


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