In theory, it would depend upon how you obtain the information. If you just scan their printed menu, it could be a copyright infringement. Let me ask you this? How often will you update the information? You could face a situation which a restaurant changed its prices or other aspects of the menu and you would be seemingly misrepresenting their business to the public.
It depends on how you will display the menus and the policies of each restaurant concerning the reposting of their menus. While it is debatable as to whether the written information in a particular restaurant menu is protected by U.S. copyright law, display of any restaurant's name and/or logo, as well as any of their designs, without permission of such establishment, to support your own business may subject you to liability for state and/or federal trademark infringement, not to mention unfair competition claims. Further, while the text of the menu may not be protected by copyright, and your use of the menu may constitute copyright and trademark fair use, it does not mean that its owners will not try to seek enforcement against you for reposting their menus without authorization, subjecting you to potentially high legal costs with no guarantees of success in any subsequent proceeding.
Based on these circumstances, I suggest you reconsider your position on obtaining prior authorization for reposting such menus as doing so would alleviate these liability risks.
Working with a qualified Washington state intellectual property attorney can assist you in further evaluating these claims. Good luck!
This response is only general information and is not legal advice. It does not form an attorney-client relationship and should not be relied upon to take or refrain from taking any action. You should seek a qualified attorney before taking any action related to your inquiry.
Besides your menu question for which you could use some individual advice; there will be other questions you find as you seek to open an e-commerce web site or App. Working with a lawyer as you begin will save you a lot of money in the future.
I have written a legal guide on this site with issues you will need to discuss with an Internet attorney. I have placed a link here for your convenience: http://www.avvo.com/legal-guides/ugc/legal-steps-to-opening-a-new-e-commerce-website-app-or-blog
You may want to discuss your situation with a lawyer in more detail. Many lawyers on Avvo offer a free phone consultation.
This post is provided for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice specific to you. This general information is not a substitute for the advice of an attorney in your jurisdiction. The attorney client relationship is not established by this post.
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