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Restaurant Trade Secrets & IP

Restaurant Branding, Restaurant Trade Secrets, Restaurant Patents, Restaurant Copyrights . . . these things can really get confusing.

In this day and age of “branding being everything”, chefs and restaurateurs are thinking more and more like executives and more about the business aspect of their restaurants instead of just how good their food tastes – wanting to protect what makes their restaurants unique; such as their name, techniques, and recipes.

Selling and Buying Restaurants:

In such a competitive industry, it is important to distinguish your restaurant from thousands of others. Once you have accomplished this task, it is important to protect your proprietary information — especially if you are thinking that one day you would like to sell your restaurant business or franchise.  Because of this, the chances are good that the number of lawsuits regarding restaurant trade secrets and proprietary information will only continue to increase.  It is also important to be sure when purchasing a restaurant that the restaurant owners actually own the name and the intellectual property that you are purchasing.

Brands, Trademarks, and Trade secrets:

Brand names can be protected by trademarks.  Inventions can be protected by patents.  The most difficult thing to protect is everything else that falls into the “trade secret” category; for instance, your recipes, your customer lists, and more.  That’s because in order to operate your restaurant business, it is necessary to share this information with others — most especially, your employees.  But, in order for these things to remain trade secrets, well, they must remain just that – a secret.

How to Protect Your Restaurant:

Some of the ways this is accomplished is to have employees and vendors sign non-disclosure agreements or non-compete agreements.  If you really want to keep something a secret, such as a recipe, whenever possible you should try to separate ingredients so that certain parties only have a partial ingredient list and other parties have the remaining; then, have yet another party combine them all together.

Not Always Cut and Dry:

Unfortunately, these issues are not always as simple as you might think.  After all, unless you have created a new kind of cheese, there are only so many ways you can make a grilled cheese sandwich.  Restaurant Expert Witness – Howard Cannon has been in the restaurant, bar, and food service industry for over 30 years and has successfully served as an expert witness and provided restaurant litigation support for cases involving restaurant trade secrets and restaurant proprietary information.

Call today for a Free, no-obligation initial consultation with Restaurant Expert Witness – Howard Cannon 800.300.5764


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