Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Chef Sues Over Intellectual Property (the Menu) - New York Times

This is a really interesting development.  Rebecca Charles of Pearl Oyster Bar in  New York is suing another restaurateur who she claims has appropriated her concept and recipes. This is, of course, something that has been going on forever, and even extends to the cookbook publishing industry where for generations thousands of  recipes are printed that are lifted from other books without permission or attribution. 

I'm not going to take a firm position on this yet. But I suppose that if she can prove that she developed the recipes from scratch and they are entirely unique (like the process of making edible paper developed by Homaro Cantu that is mentioned in the article and for which he has applied for a patent) she might have a case. But we are talking about lobster rolls and Caesar salad here. Idiosyncratic as these recipes might be it's going to be very difficult for her to make the case that she has any claim to their invention. I'll bet the case gets thrown out of court.

Chef Sues Over Intellectual Property (the Menu) - New York Times

4 comments:

sfchin said...

This has definitely been an interesting ongoing story. I will be surprised if she wins the suit, but from the sound of it (I have not seen either restaurant), any person with half a brain can walk into the two restaurants and see that the one is ripping off the other. Not unlike comparing the original Windows OS with the Mac OS.

Steve

The Foodist said...

Beating a dead horse. Honestly what does she tend to prove by doing this?

To say youve done something compleatly original in the food industry these days is far and by a hard hard HARD thing to prove. You can adapt or change things to fit your style or need, but to say you "created" it.. wow.

GL trying to prove it in court, not unless the restaurant in question literaly stole her menu word for word.

sfchin said...

I think mainly it is a matter of degree. The coverage over at Serious Eats certainly makes it seem closer to the "word for word" scenario. Even so, of course, lobster rolls and caesar salad are far from unique. In fact, part of the basis of their appeal is that they conform to some pre-existing notion of what those foods are supposed to be. Otherwise, the whole "New England lobster shack in NYC" concept fails.

Given all that, however, it seems pretty bush league for McFarland to open what sounds like the same restaurant so close to Charles'. Bad enough to get sued over? Probably not. But still pretty low.

Steve

The Foodist said...

Your right about degree, If in court she can prove they purposely copied her menu in an attempt to directly put her out of buisiness they are in the wrong.

But in all seriousness, Menu development has been about adaptation for a long time. You see one thing you like you take it adapt it to your way and try to do it differently/better.

In a way thats IS the buisiness these days it seems.