Pitching an idea to e-Textbook Publishers: Trademarks through NY Restaurants

In case you missed it, there is a new book out dedicated to the mathematical beauty and geometry of pasta (George Legendre and Stefano Grazini’s Pasta by Design, not to be confused with The Geometry of Pasta by Caz Hildebrand and Jacob Kenedy). It contains formulas for shapes and cooking pointers for preparing ziti, fiori and conchiglie. It was a commercially-viable idea which lead to0 many of my intelligent, and single-minded (a.k.a. nerdy) friends acquired copies of this cookbook.

How does one go from having a good idea to successful execution? As a student in my trademarks class, I was struck by at the number of cases involving restaurants that allowed our professor to illustrate concepts such as concurrent use, see Dawn Donut v. Har’s Food Store (1959), dress infringement, see Taco Cabana v. Two Pesos, Inc (1992), problems with registration, see City of New York v. Tavern on the Green (2010), and abandonment, see ITC Limited v. Punchgini (2007). If only the entire textbook could contain nothing but restaurant-involving cases, it may be printed on glossy paper with mouthwatering illustrations, addresses of the establishments still in business, and may be recipes of their most popular dishes. Who wouldn’t want to keep this textbook long after the law school days are over?! Otherwise, students like myself, quickly and without regret, sell used Trademarks textbook. But a restaurant guidebook with a legal flavor could generate its own following among the graduated and employed.

My idea to author Restaurant Guide to Intellectual Property Textbook surfaced again when a federal judge refused to dismiss a lawsuit by international photographer who claimed that the Vapiano Restaurant used her work to create a “sleek Italian dining concept.” See our earlier post on this case.

It resurfaced during the panel on Trending Topics in Licensing and Branding presented by the Entertainment, Arts and Sports Law Section of the New York State Bar Association in January. Trademarks through Restaurants textbook can be available on an e-reader. It can be made into an app, similar to the “Our Choice” interactive app based on Al Gore’s book allowing the users (or are they still readers?) to use interactive info-graphs to provide a new informational experience. If by blowing into your iPad port you can generate electricity for the device you can surely explain false association and registration requirements. As of March 1, 2012, the appetite for a textbook using only food and restaurant cases to describe trademark concepts has not been satisfied.

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