Obviously I don't have all the facts, as we only have one news report to go on, but I don't see a realistic cause of action here, or much likelihood of success.
You can't claim exclusivity over an idea like a chocolate theme restaurant. Trademarks can only cover the name/brand, not the general concept. Copyright does not apply restaurant ideas, and even if it did only applies to the specific expression, not an exclusivity to the concept. Even if you could get a patent on it, there are countless examples of prior art in everything from patisseries to chocolate heavy cafes.
Two things are slightly concerning from this report: the claim that Universal was actually meeting with this gentleman, and the seemingly preventative move by Universal to change the name from "Factory" to "Emporium". However, I have no idea about any of the legal wrangling involved.
The idea for a chocolate factory restaurant in and of itself seems fairly simple and straightforward, but if Universal did indeed meet with this fella and discuss his "idea" then advance some version of it (with a slightly changed name) well, then Comcast has some 'splaining to do!
The article says it's not an one-off pitch. He did many meetings with them. He also trademarked The Chocolate Factory and he is opening his own restaurant concept in Los Angeles. The restaurant would appear to be Universal's own creation and they could not shift the blame to another restaurateur or developer.
Well, Garrets Popcorn in Chicago lost a trademark lawsuit by some Minnesota shop that claims they own the title "Chicago Mix". All's fair in Candy!
How many full-service restaurants in the history of human life since Adam and Eve combined a full-service restaurant, an in-house working chocolate factory, and retail store? ZERO.
His idea was 100% original. If you actually read the book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Willly Wonka's Brand Name is WONKA. Additional fact you can verify at United States Patent and Trademark Office. The Cheesecake Factory and Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory sued him. He was the little guy that big business was trying to force out of business. Now, Universal is stealing his dream, original ideas, and years of hard work. In addition to the several hundred-thousand dollars he spent defending himself against these big businesses that tried to kill his dream early on. Not cool. Based on information from sources who have requested to remain anonymous, his team includes some of the most successful, peer recognized, and industry acknowledged awarded winning individuals in the entire global culinary scene. Baseball mega-star Ken Griffey Jr is also an original founding investor and partner.
^^^ I'm going to guess that you're the guy who got ripped off? I don't mean this rudely, I just want to know.
>>>How many full-service restaurants in the history of human life since Adam and Eve combined a full-service restaurant, an in-house working chocolate factory, and retail store?
Thats a pretty bold claim, considering York Chocolate Story combines all three (admittedly it is a Cafe with a chocolate spin), and so do Lidnt Cafes. Not to mention the Cadbury Cafe at Cadbury-world will happily sell you a full english breakfast or a panini, and the shuttered "number 1 Chocolate factory" in Glasgow used to do it.. http://www.1chocolatefactory.com - I doubt any of these are original and that there are plenty of French patisseries and chocolateers that produce chocolates in front of the customer's eyes, and I haven't even tried to find another example of such a thing existing.
I also have distinct memories of a chocolatier having a fine dining restaurant on Kitchen Nightmares.
Adding more substantial meals to such a concept would therefore be an obvious increment rather than a revolutionary idea. when an improvement is "obvious" to someone who is skilled and knowledgable in the "state of the art", a patent falls to be declared void due to obviousness... Although in this case I'd go further and say there is prior art of such a concept existing.
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