Rebecca Charles, the proprietor and chef of Manhattan’s West Village seafood restaurant, Pearl Oyster Bar, is taking a fellow restaurateur to court over the infringement of intellectual property. She says Ed McFarland of Ed’s Lobster Bar in SoHo, has knocked-off “each and every element” of her restaurant, from interior design elements to actual menu items.

In recent years, a handful of chefs and restaurateurs have invoked intellectual property concepts, including trademarks, patents and trade dress — the distinctive look and feel of a business — to defend their restaurants, their techniques and even their recipes, but most have stopped short of a courtroom. The Pearl Oyster Bar suit may be the most aggressive use of those concepts by the owner of a small restaurant. Some legal experts believe the number of cases will grow as chefs begin to think more like chief executives.

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