But then again, perhaps that is why is is famous. Had he gotten a patent, he would not have been copied, but he might still have died without money and the insult to injury would have been obscurity:
Mahmut Aygün, the Turkish immigrant who revolutionised German fast food with his tasty creation, died at age 87 this week after a serious illness. Aygün came up with the now ubiquitous döner while working at the “City Imbiss” snack shop in West Berlin in 1971. Cutting meat off a huge rotating spit, he was inspired to put it in pita bread and dress it up with vegetables and yoghurt sauce. Selling for two marks, the döner quickly became a staple of German street food alongside Teutonic favourites such as the bratwurst. Although Aygün went on to considerable culinary success in Berlin, he didn’t make money from the thousands of kebab shops across Germany that copied him because he failed to patent his invention. Still, he will be remembered by countless legions of döner kebab fans around the world.