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Copyright Considerations

Everything you create graphically, from menus to signage, should be done independently by you. The advantages to creating your own graphics: (1) you are the author and owner with complete control; (2) if you open subsequent restaurants, you can avoid paying a graphic designer additional licensing fees for the designs you paid him for and used in the first restaurant; (3) you can avoid having of huge sums of money extorted from you by a graphic designer (or a graphic designers children) 35 years after your restaurant has become successful (i.e., when claw back rights inure - assuming it is not a work for hire,” which is usually the case since graphics designers are not your employees and you cannot force a work for hire classification based on contract alone).Another reason for taking charge of your copyright creations is that good record keeping and multiple copyright applications will strengthen your copyright portfolio in terms of number and tracking accuracy. You can easily download the forms you need from the Library of Congress website and inexpensively apply for your own copyright. You should copyright your menus in blank (i.e., a background design without words) and should copyright every menu you disseminate (assuming you will not be changing your menu daily). Finally, you should copyright every non-useful (i.e., only for display) art design you create for your interiors (for example, two- or three-dimensional decorations, any restaurant characters, theme representations, etc.).In summary, a new restaurant is fertile ground for intellectual property traps that can wreck the business and the business owner. By proceeding carefully and methodically to secure the appropriate level of intellectual property protection for each and every vulnerable aspect of your new restaurant, you can deftly avoid most of the pitfalls that so often plague new restaurateurs.


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