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

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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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


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 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.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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