Can You Copyright a Hot Dog Concept?

Author
1bbqboy
Filet Mignon
  • Total Posts : 4634
  • Joined: 2000/11/20 16:52:00
  • Location: Rogue Valley
  • Status: offline
2010/10/19 18:01:20 (permalink)

Can You Copyright a Hot Dog Concept?

These 2 guys recently opened an upscale hot dog joint in KC, Dog Nuvo.
They just got sued and are temporarily closed. Their previous owner claims rights to the concept.
Are Restaurant Concepts unique?
 Crossroads' new upscale hot dog place faces lawsuit, closes for now | Dollars & Sense
 Crossroads' new upscale hot dog place faces lawsuit, closes for now Harry Blasco,left, and Marshall Roth of Dog Nuvo
It seemed a bit intriguing that the owners of the new eatery Dog Nuvo in the Crossroads Arts District had been doing a similar concept for their former employer.
Apparently that employer, McClain Restaurant Group, also thought so.
The Independence-based company and its owner Kenneth McClain recently filed suit against Dog Nuvo’s owners — Harry Blasco and Marshall Roth — and their investors, citing misappropriation of trade secrets, breach of fiduciary duty and misrepresentation.
A restraining order has been issued and Dog Nuvo is closed for now.
In the suit, Kenneth McClain said he came up with the idea for UpDog, using his experiences gained from chowing down at hot dog restaurants around the country.
He said he asked Blasco and Roth to research and develop a new concept — food recipes and formulas, pricing, market strategy, suppliers, logos and advertisements. He even paid travel expenses.
McClain also hired college interns to help out.
continued.....






#1

17 Replies Related Threads

    chewingthefat
    Sirloin
    • Total Posts : 6186
    • Joined: 2007/11/22 17:02:00
    • Location: Emmitsburg, Md.
    • Status: offline
    Re:Can You Copyright a Hot Dog Concept? 2010/10/19 18:04:30 (permalink)
    If you can, then I'm going for Chili Dog!
    #2
    David_NYC
    Double Chili Cheeseburger
    • Total Posts : 2165
    • Joined: 2004/08/01 15:15:00
    • Location: New York, NY
    • Status: offline
    Re:Can You Copyright a Hot Dog Concept? 2010/10/20 11:43:44 (permalink)
    There is a form of intellectual property protection known as Trade Dress Registration.
    Its pretty hard to tell from the article if this particular suit has merit or not.
     
    We had a thread here a while back about a place in NJ that was closed down for using the Trade Dress of Five Guys:
    http://www.roadfood.com/Forums/Burger-boys-in-NJripped-off-5-guys-m369914.aspx
    #3
    mar52
    Sirloin
    • Total Posts : 8071
    • Joined: 2005/04/17 18:50:00
    • Location: Marina del Rey, CA
    • Status: online
    Re:Can You Copyright a Hot Dog Concept? 2010/10/20 12:31:39 (permalink)
    If you invent something related to your employemnt while working for another that invention belongs to the employer.
     
    A friend of mine who is a pilot invented an air refiltration system for planes.  Inventing is his hobby.  Flying planes is his profession.
     
    He made the mistake of telling someone at his employ of his work and at that moment he lost the ownership of that idea.
     
    He could have retired with it, but the law said it belonged to his employers.
     
    No one believed the outcome because his job is to just fly the jets.
     
    In the hot dog case these guys were paid to come up with the concept.
     
    I don't know if they've included that concept in their place, but opening the same type of operation is questionable.
     
    Before buying my store, the owners had employees open the same type of shop on the exact same street down the road a couple of miles.
     
    Nothing came of that except that one of his employees did the exact same thing to him.  Problem there was that the 3rd opened on the same street.... between us.
     
    Intellectual property is an interesting field and it doesn't always go the way in which you'd expect.
     
     
    #4
    mayor al
    Fire Safety Admin
    • Total Posts : 15303
    • Joined: 2002/08/20 22:32:00
    • Location: Louisville area, Southern Indiana
    • Status: offline
    Re:Can You Copyright a Hot Dog Concept? 2010/10/22 06:24:04 (permalink)
    A bit more 'metallic' than the Hot Dog Concept, but In our family we had an experience similar to what Marlene describes.
        My grandfather was a mechanical engineer---turbo and superchargers were his area of expertise. He worked for Borg-Warner/Chrysler in the 1930's and 40's. Anyway Grandfather 'invented' the turbo-blades that made the turbocharger do what it does. Millions of these are one the road today as a result of his invention back then.  To protect his 'invention' from being ripped off by the company that employed him, he patented the 'blades' under my father's name. Thus the company had to pay royalties for the use of the invention, rather than claim it as it's own property. Grandfather was a pretty smart businessperson. The patents have long since expired, but I have them around here somewhere...a link to my Dad and Grandfather that is more than a drawing of a steel blade.
    #5
    John Fox
    Double Chili Cheeseburger
    • Total Posts : 2339
    • Joined: 2000/12/03 14:29:00
    • Location: Union, NJ
    • Status: offline
    Re:Can You Copyright a Hot Dog Concept? 2010/10/22 07:16:21 (permalink)
    In the comments following the article someone metioned that Dog Nuvo opened less than a month after the owners left the McClain restaurant group. This indicates that they were working on the Updog project while at the same time planning on leaving the company and opening their own restaurant. I don't know if this suit has merit but would tend to side with McClain.
     
    Many of these lawsuits have no merit. Such as the Dogma Grill in Florida (which I think is no more) suing a tiny place located in the basement of a church in Pittsburgh called Hot Dogma because they thought the name was similar and would confuse customers. Even if they had the same exact name, they were thousands of miles apart.
     
    Another comment asked "how secret can a dog be?" The answer is very. From the brand used to how it's prepared and what toppings or ingredients are used. Two places serving the same brand of hot dog and preparing them in a similar manner can be so different in flavor and texture. In North Jerrsey there are a lot of hot dog joints that use Thumann's dog for deep frying. Many prefer Rutt's Hut to the others. Same dog, same method of preparation. The secret, which is not really a secret anymore is that Rutt's fries their dogs in beef tallow.
     
    Jerry's Famous Frankfurters, a walkup hot dog stand, has a dog that is different from their competitors. They serve a "dirty water dog" but they finish it off in steel box that is sort of like a griddle for a minute or two after being plucked from the water. This gives their franks extra snap and flavor. While you cannot see the dogs being prepared, Jerry's does not keep it a secret and will tell you how they prepare their dogs if you ask.
     
    I can certainly see why someone would want to guard their "secrets". These little things do make a big difference many times when it comes to the finished product.
    #6
    1bbqboy
    Filet Mignon
    • Total Posts : 4634
    • Joined: 2000/11/20 16:52:00
    • Location: Rogue Valley
    • Status: offline
    Re:Can You Copyright a Hot Dog Concept? 2010/10/22 09:12:01 (permalink)
    Restraining order lifted, so they can reopen, but lawsuit remains.
    Here's another view of the situation:
     Dog Nuvo learns it's a dog-eat-dog-domain world - Kansas City Restaurants and Dining - Fat City
    #7
    mar52
    Sirloin
    • Total Posts : 8071
    • Joined: 2005/04/17 18:50:00
    • Location: Marina del Rey, CA
    • Status: online
    Re:Can You Copyright a Hot Dog Concept? 2010/10/22 13:49:26 (permalink)
    Now that's interesting.  McLain or whatever is now deliberately trying to derail their business.
    He might be ruining his own lawsuit.
    This should be interesting.
    #8
    MiamiDon
    Filet Mignon
    • Total Posts : 4306
    • Joined: 2006/09/08 07:12:00
    • Location: Miami, FL
    • Status: offline
    Re:Can You Copyright a Hot Dog Concept? 2010/10/22 18:45:54 (permalink)
    Sorry John,
     
    Dogma Grill is alive and well in Midtown Miami.
    #9
    1bbqboy
    Filet Mignon
    • Total Posts : 4634
    • Joined: 2000/11/20 16:52:00
    • Location: Rogue Valley
    • Status: offline
    Re:Can You Copyright a Hot Dog Concept? 2010/10/22 19:08:36 (permalink)
    my dogma ran over your kartma?
    sorry.
    #10
    John Fox
    Double Chili Cheeseburger
    • Total Posts : 2339
    • Joined: 2000/12/03 14:29:00
    • Location: Union, NJ
    • Status: offline
    Re:Can You Copyright a Hot Dog Concept? 2010/10/23 05:52:15 (permalink)
    MiamiDon

    Sorry John,

    Dogma Grill is alive and well in Midtown Miami.

     I know that there were at least a few Dogma Grills and had heard of them closing. Do they have just the one location? The place formerly known as Hot Dogma has been renamed Franktuary. They are doing well after a rough beginning when they almost considered closing. Being featured on the Food Network helped them tremendously. They serve a quality Boars Head natural casing dog. Since they are located in the basement of a church, they cannot use a standard grill because of exhaust issues. They were preparing their dogs on a George Foreman grill. I don't know if they still are. One of the owners is from New Jersey. We had a couple of dogs together at the Galloping Hill Inn a few years ago. Nice guy who brought hot dogs from Jersey to his dorm in college to make for his friends. Little did he know that he would make a career out of serving hot dogs.
     
    http://franktuary.com/
     
    I wonder if there is a person alive who has eaten at Franktuary and the Dogma Grill.
    #11
    John Fox
    Double Chili Cheeseburger
    • Total Posts : 2339
    • Joined: 2000/12/03 14:29:00
    • Location: Union, NJ
    • Status: offline
    Re:Can You Copyright a Hot Dog Concept? 2010/10/23 08:28:11 (permalink)
    A link to an article about the lawsuit.
     
    http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/06304/734270-192.stm
    #12
    1bbqboy
    Filet Mignon
    • Total Posts : 4634
    • Joined: 2000/11/20 16:52:00
    • Location: Rogue Valley
    • Status: offline
    Re:Can You Copyright a Hot Dog Concept? 2010/10/23 09:50:03 (permalink)
    update:
     Nuvo Dogs re-opens, but lawsuit continues - Kansas City Restaurants and Dining - Fat City
       ​Chef Marshall Roth and business partner Harry Blasco re-opened their gourmet hot dog restaurant, Dog Nuvo, today after the restraining order filed earlier this week by their former employer was lifted. 

    Independence lawyer and restaurateur Ken McClain continues to press his lawsuit, which charges misappropriation of trade secrets and breach of fiduciary responsibility.
    continued.....
    post edited by bill voss - 2010/10/23 09:52:03
    #13
    1bbqboy
    Filet Mignon
    • Total Posts : 4634
    • Joined: 2000/11/20 16:52:00
    • Location: Rogue Valley
    • Status: offline
    Re:Can You Copyright a Hot Dog Concept? 2010/10/25 11:06:45 (permalink)
    here's a blog that visited DN pre this dustup.
    Looks interesting.
     KC Napkins: A Food Rag: Dog Nuvo = New Dogs in KC
    #14
    bartl
    Double Chili Cheeseburger
    • Total Posts : 1329
    • Joined: 2004/07/06 23:33:00
    • Location: New Milford, NJ
    • Status: offline
    Re:Can You Copyright a Hot Dog Concept? 2010/10/25 11:33:40 (permalink)
    A long time ago, I learned a dirty little secret about court cases: reporters lie. Well, more specifically, they tend to have a preconception of how they want the case to turn out, and report based on that, often ignoring evidence. Whenever you read about a case that seems to be going strongly in one direction, and the jury decides in the other, you can bet that when the jury members give their reasons for their verdict, you will hear about evidence that never appeared in the newspapers.
     
    Now, what this story APPEARS to be about is that McClain was starting up a concept for a chain of restaurants, and the people whom he hired to do research for him quit and used the research that he had paid them to do in order to cut him out. Now, if McClain is any kind of businessmen, he would have had them sign non-disclosure and non-competition contracts. Normally, the latter is hard to enforce, but, if the facts as reported are correct, McClain has an excellent case.
     
    Bart
    #15
    BillVol
    Cheeseburger
    • Total Posts : 106
    • Joined: 2005/08/02 13:13:00
    • Location: Chattanooga, TN
    • Status: offline
    Re:Can You Copyright a Hot Dog Concept? 2011/02/08 02:33:01 (permalink)
    I think this is just a matter of "how much justice can you afford." 
     
    There is no way you can "trade dress" a burger or dog.  All you have to prove is that you are doing something just a little different.  Not hard to do.  These folks must be desperate.
    #16
    Scorereader
    Sirloin
    • Total Posts : 5566
    • Joined: 2005/08/04 13:09:00
    • Location: Crofton, MD
    • Status: offline
    Re:Can You Copyright a Hot Dog Concept? 2011/02/08 10:45:13 (permalink)
    in answer the the question: Can you Copyright a Hot Dog Concept: the answer is NO.
     
    Copyright, under the law, does not copyright an idea or concept - 17 USC 102(b).
     
    As per trade secrets, unfair busniess practices, and such, that falls outside copyright law. The lawsuit would not have any merit under copyright, but could, I suppose, under other aspects of the law.
    #17
    daddywoofdawg
    Cheeseburger
    • Total Posts : 299
    • Joined: 2011/02/23 01:38:00
    • Location: Starkweather, ND
    • Status: offline
    Re:Can You Copyright a Hot Dog Concept? 2011/02/23 01:50:00 (permalink)
    If I hired someone to build me a business concept,and they went and quit and opened up a restaurant like what I paid they to develop, I would feel that they ripped me off.I paid you to come up with an idea, and you gave me some and saved the good stuff for yourself, but had no problem cashing my check for what I paid you for.
    #18
    Jump to:
    © 2014 APG vNext Commercial Version 5.1