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Rebecca Charles, NYC lobster roll pioneer and owner of Pearl Oyster Bar will do whatever it takes to protect the formula she has created to make Pearl such a success. She has brought suit in Federal court against Ed McFarland, her former sous chef and owner of Ed's Lobster Bar, claiming that he copied “'each and every element' of Pearl Oyster Bar, including the white marble bar, the gray paint on the wainscoting, the chairs and bar stools with their wheat-straw backs, the packets of oyster crackers placed at each table setting and the dressing on the Caesar salad," amounting to a theft of Charles' intellectual property.

According to the Times, one of the most brazen violations in Charles' opinion is McFarland's Caesar salad, made from the same unique recipe that was passed down from Charles' mother. If the case is successful, it could carry quite a bit of weight in the restaurant world, where chefs and owners are just scratching the surface to see how far their intellectual property rights extend.

Having been a longtime fan of Pearl, we were struck by the similarities when we visited Ed's, and a commenter even chided us for not recognizing more overlap on the menu. We'll be following this one closely, but may have to do some extra taste-test research to get to the bottom of it all.

Fun fact: David Burke is applying for a trademark on his bacon-flavored spray. And a while back, the success of Magnolia Bakery spawned off-shoots and lawsuits.

Photo of Ed's lobster roll -- or is it Pearl's?