Topic: Strategy

Can A Restaurant Menu Be Copyrighted?

Posted by Anonymous on 250 Points
I am starting a food delivery service, in which customers may have food from any restaurant delivered to them. Customers are also able to view the menus of restaurants and place orders online. Some of these restaurants are local, and some are franchised but have menus specific to the local area.

The company is not going to make money off the goods being sold (items will remain at the original price), but only to charge for service of delivering the food. In fact, the restaurants will be getting more business at no cost to them.

Is it against copyright laws to reproduce the content of a restaurant menu on another medium, such as a website? I am aware that some names of items may be a registered trademark, but is the menu as a whole protected by copyright laws in ways that it cannot be reproduced?

The way the menus would be reproduced are by text (not by pictures, scans, pdf, etc.). The information about the items, descriptions, and prices is all entered into a database, in which the website takes orders from customers.

Does every online store or service that deals with goods need permission to use the names of the goods on their website? Even if so, does that apply to me, since I am not a retailer or reseller, just a delivery service?

If I do need permission from every restaurant, would I need to have it in writing, or is an oral agreement just as good?

Thanks very much for your time (and help).
To continue reading this question and the solution, sign up ... it's free!


  • Posted by Deremiah *CPE on Member
    Well if that's true I guess Eggharbor is violating this law because they put their menus on the internet. I hope this helps If it doesn't I tried.

    Your Servant, Deremiah, *CPE (Customer Passion Evangelist)
  • Posted by Inbox_Interactive on Accepted
    I think there are mujltiple issues on the table here.

    First, whether menus are copyrighted or not, I doubt that most restaurants will be too upset about someone distributing that information at no cost to them. Sure, some of the larger chains might have standards about typeface, logos, etc., but I think it's being a little harsh to say that the intent here is to violate any copyright law. It's not like anyone's opening a new restaurant and claiming these menus as their own.

    No, to me the real issue is whether you want to start such a business as this without the written agreement of the restaurants. Although I really think you should consult an attorney about this, I'm pretty sure the answer would be "no."

    If I owned a restaurant, I would not want unsanctioned delivery services running around taking orders and making deliveries on my behalf without me knowing about it and agreeing to it. How do I know how you will treat my customers on the phone? In person? How do I know you'll have the right image? How do I know you won't tamper with the food? How do I know you won't get drunk and kill someone on the road, all the while carrying a bunch of my food and possibly subjecting me to a lawsuit?

    Having said all that, I think you might end up upsetting any owners or managers who find out what you're doing behind their backs. And frankly, you *want* them on your side because you want priority when you come in for a pick-up, and you want to know they won't offer a delivery route to anyone else.

    If you're not going to contact a lawyer, I think you should at least consider getting a book on this subject. I would have to think that they've addressed some of these issues as part of writing it. Check out:

    Or perhaps get the materials from these companies and get a peek behind the curtain:,5049,300027,00.html

    Hope this helps!

  • Posted on Member
    wow, I know this is from 5 yrs ago, but I am still really curious. How did it end up? Did you start your business? Was it successful? Did you get permissions from rerstaurant owners? Is it even an act of violation towards the copyright law to post their menus online?

Post a Comment