Real Cupcake War: Sprinkles vs. Pink Sprinkles


Life is not all sugar and spice in the world of gourmet cupcakes and a Fairfield cupcakery is in a legal battle over the word “Sprinkles.”

On one side of the battle is Candace Nelson, of Sprinkles Cupcakes, and a judge on the Food Network's reality television show "Cupcake Wars." Her company filed a federal trademark-infringement lawsuit on Friday in Connecticut against a Fairfield shop named Pink Sprinkles.

The lawsuit claims the similarity in names is likely to cause confusion in the marketplace.

"The resulting confusion will damage Sprinkles and injure its reputation in the trade and with the public," the lawsuit says.

Sprinkles opened its first store in Beverly Hills in 2005 and became a national phenomenon as the cupcakes were featured on shows hosted by Oprah Winfrey, Martha Stewart and others, the lawsuit says. Sprinkles, which is based in Texas, has several stores across the country, including in New York, W and plans to open several more around the country and in London, Paris and Toronto.

Pink Sprinkles opened in 2009 and calls itself "Fairfield's first cupcake boutique."

Messages the Associated Press left on Monday for the owner of Pink Sprinkles were not immediately returned.

Sprinkles has repeatedly requested that Pink Sprinkles "promptly transition to a new name" but it has refused, the lawsuit says.

The lawsuit, which seeks damages and to make Pink Sprinkles stop using the name, calls the dispute "an exceptional case, involving calculated and willful misconduct."

Sprinkles will have to prove consumers are likely to confuse its cupcake with Pink Sprinkles, said Jessica Litman, a law professor at the University of Michigan who teaches trademark law. She said Sprinkles is a common name for a bakery, the websites are different and the two businesses are not in the same market.

"I think it's not so weak a case it was stupid to file it but it's not a strong case," Litman said.

Charles Nelson, who owns Sprinkles with his wife, said people erroneously thought the couple had opened a store in Connecticut, and that their cupcake mix was for sale in Connecticut.

"It's not about competition," Nelson said. `It's just about our name."

This is not the first trademark infringement lawsuit Sprinkles has filed. The companysued Famous Cupcakes, accusing the company of stealing the "Modern Dot" cupcake design. 

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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