A copyright dispute between an Essex restaurant and London department store Harrods represents a "classic example of a small business not being aware of trademark laws", according to an industry expert.
Mark Kingsley-Williams, co-founder of brand protection company Trade Mark Direct, warned that operators must check possible copyright issues affecting the names and signage of their businesses.
The call comes after department store Harrods requested that Hollands Café Lounge in Witham, Essex, change its signage as it bears too close a resemblance to its own logo.
The café, which opened four months ago, has been given until Monday to change its signage to avoid legal action.
"Examination of the Hollands Café Lounge sign will reveal that the script is extremely similar to our copyrighted Harrods logo and could, therefore, wrongly suggest some association between our organisations," spokesperson for Harrods said.
"We feel it is fair and appropriate that they should take some simple steps to remedy this copyright infringement."
Nigel Holland, owner of the restaurant, said that the demands are "wholly unreasonable" and that the cost of changing the signage, along with menus and its website, could exceed £10,000 and put him out of business.
Kingsley-Williams told Caterersearch that Holland made a mistake common among small businesses. "It may seem over the top but it highlights a serious issue, of which many small businesses are unaware of the implications," he said.
"The costs of ensuring a business's name or logo] is not too similar to copyrighted names can be anything up to £500, but in light of the cost of changing restaurant and website branding at a later date, it is a small outlay."
By Tom Vaughan
E-mail your comments to Caterer News here.
If you have something to say on this story or anything else join the debate at Table Talk - Caterer's new networking forum. Go to www.caterersearch.com/tabletalk
Looking for a new job? Find your next restaurant job here with Caterersearch.com jobs