Candace Nelson, a judge on the Food Network’s successful show, Cupcake Wars, is in her own battle after suing a Fairfield, Connecticut based business for trademark infringement. Nelson’s company, Sprinkles Cupcakes, Inc., has filed a lawsuit in Connecticut District Court alleging that Pink Sprinkles LLC of Fairfield has committed trademark infringement based on Pink Sprinkles’s use of the “sprinkles” moniker for cupcakes and other baked goods. Sprinkles Cupcakes is the owner of a United States trademark registration for the trademark SPRINKLES for bakery goods and retail store services featuring bakery goods.
Simple case? Not really. Even though the plaintiff has a federal trademark registration, there are plenty of defenses available to our Connecticut neighbor, Pink Sprinkles. I seem to recall a famous case before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board rendering the mark “soft and chewy” for cookies merely descriptive of baked goods and thus not eligible for registration. There are other cases that have held no matter how much money the owner of a merely descriptive trademark pumps into the brand, or no matter how successful the brand gets, it is in the end —well, merely descriptive. It also appears that the Pink Sprinkles may have other defenses available to it that could level the playing field with its deep-pocketed adversary.
Let’s hope that the case comes to a swift resolution that keeps Pink Sprinkles in business and profitable!