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Rebecca Charles Sues Ed McFarland Over Fish Shack Concept

In what could be a massively important precedent-setter in the restaurant business, Pearl Oyster Bar matriarch Rebecca Charles has filed suit in Federal District Court against Ed McFarland, the latest of her former employees to have gone on to open a Pearl knock-off, in this case Ed's Lobster Bar. Pete Wells for the Times reports:

The suit, which seeks unspecified financial damages from Mr. McFarland and the restaurant itself, charges that Ed’s Lobster Bar copies “each and every element” of Pearl Oyster Bar, including the white marble bar, the gray paint on the wainscoting, the chairs and bar stools with their wheat-straw backs, the packets of oyster crackers placed at each table setting and the dressing on the Caesar salad.

Mr. McFarland would not comment on the complaint, saying that he had not seen it yet. But he said that Ed’s Lobster Bar, which opened in March, was no imitator.

“I would say it’s a similar restaurant,” he said, “I would not say it’s a copy.”

The time line for the intellectual property suit is unclear, and many of these cases wind up in confidential settlements, but imitators, and you know who you are, should be following this one quite closely.
· Chef Sues Over Intellectual Property (the Menu) [NYT]