If you own a restaurant, you expect your customers to visit you for your tasty creations. Still, according to figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are nearly 25,000 dining establishments in Los Angeles County alone. Eventually, you may have to do something to stand out from the crowd.
Because most Californians want a pleasant dining experience, you can expect your customers to seek out restaurants that have top-notch decor. If your decor is distinctive, you can probably seek trade dress protection for it.
Why is decor trade dress?
Trade dress is the decoration you use to give your restaurant its immediately recognizable appearance. This may include your store’s layout, paint colors, window coverings, tables, chairs or other items.
For your trade dress to be protectable, it must be distinctive. That is, your decor must be meaningfully different than the decor other restaurants use. It also must be nonfunctional, meaning it is not necessary for the production or distribution of your food.
How can you identify infringement?
The problem with trade dress infringement is two-fold. First, customers may become incapable of distinguishing between your restaurant and those of your competitors. Furthermore, competing establishments may use the time, money and effort you have invested in your decor to their advantage.
Anything another business does to take advantage of your decor may constitute infringement. Therefore, you probably do not want to ignore even marginal slights, as your competitors may argue you allowed infringement to occur.
Ultimately, by pushing back against trade dress infringement, you ensure you receive the full benefit of your restaurant’s design.