Intellectual Property

Suit Claims Restaurant a Copy

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A New York chef has sued a competitor for copying the look and feel of her restaurant.

Rebecca Charles, who owns the Pearl Oyster Bar in the West Village, says the competing restaurateur has copied her white marble bar, gray trim and straw-back chairs, the New York Times reports. She is particularly incensed by his Caesar salad, which she says is made from her own well-guarded recipe.

“My restaurant is a personal reflection of me, my experience, my family,” she told the newspaper. “That restaurant is me.”

The defendants are Ed’s Lobster Bar and its co-owner, Ed McFarland. He worked as Charles’ sous-chef for six years. He said his restaurant is similar, but not a copy.

Legal experts told the Times the suit may be the most aggressive pursuit of an intellectual property claim by a restaurant. But many chefs are beginning to take IP seriously.

Chef Homaro Cantu of Moto restaurant in Chicago patents everything from eating utensils to high-tech business tools, the May 2007 ABA Journal reported in “Mixing IP with Mmmmmm.” Visitors to his kitchen must sign a nondisclosure agreement.

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