In intellectual property law, a copyright is a right to prevent others from using your originally authored work. Under the federal copyright law, a copyright entitles the owner to many exclusive rights, such as the right to:

  • Reproduce the copyrighted work
  • Distribute copies of the copyrighted work to the public for sale
  • Perform the copyrighted work

Can I Copyright My Restaurant's Menu?

A copyright will only protect the particular manner of the owner's expression, whether it is in musical, artistic or literary form. Therefore, the particular way that you arrange, compile or order the food and drink items on your menu can be protected by copyright. However, copyright does not protect names, titles, short phrases or ideas. Thus, the individual names that you give to the food and drink items would not be protected.

Is There Anything Else I Need to Know?

Your original recipes may qualify for copyright protection, if the recipe includes directions or instructions for creating the item. Also, the name of your restaurant may qualify for trademark protection.

How Do I Register My Copyright?

An owner and creator of original work can register a copyright at the U.S. Copyright Office. Usually, an owner needs to fill out a form specific to the work that the owner wishes to register, and submit a fee.

Should I Consult a Lawyer about My Copyright Issue?

The deadlines and regulations for copyright registration are detailed and strict. An intellectual property attorney can help you meet all the deadlines and fulfill all the requirements. A lawyer can also participate in on-going research to make certain no one else is using your copyright without your permission. Additionally, if you have an issue of copyright infringement, an attorney can guide you through the difficult and strict procedural requirements for litigation and bring out the core of your case.