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The recipe for successful restaurants

US courts have often ruled in disputes over the trade dress of restaurants. Here's a guide to protecting a restaurant’s look and feel

About 60% of new restaurants fail within three years of opening their doors (H G Parsa, John T Self, David Njite and Tiffany King, Why Restaurants Fail, 46 Cornell Hotel and Restaurant Administration Quarterly 304, 309 Exh 1 (2005)). Although factors such as location, quality of food and service and marketing play a significant role in a restaurant's success, developing a unique identity and style is equally important as a restaurant attempts to distinguish itself from the competition. With success comes tougher challenges for established restaurants, as competitors or start-up restaurants attempt to emulate elements of the successful restaurant in the hope of improving their odds of beating the failure rate.

IP laws play a role in protecting a restaurant's identity and style and fending off copycats. Trade mark law can protect a restaurant's name, marketing slogans, logos or the name of a signature dish or beverage. A restaurant's menu,...

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