Sprinkles vs. Sprinkled Pink Cupcake Couture

Sprinkled Pink Cupcake Couture
photo by John Dickson/santabarbara.com

Here we go again...

According to the Los Angeles Times, Sprinkles is going after the newly-opened Sprinkled Pink Cupcake Couture in Montecito, California.

Three-year-old Sprinkles most recently set its sugary sights on Sprinkled Pink Cupcake Couture in Montecito. Last week, just one day after Wendy Jones opened her shop, she received a letter from Sprinkles demanding that she change the name of her bakery, which she registered when she got her business license in 2003.

"They're going too far," said Jones, who hasn't decided how to respond to the letter. "I'm sure they're protecting themselves, but there's a whole big United States out there. There's room for other cupcake shops. They shouldn't be bullying around or picking on little people like us. . . . I really honestly don't think they invented the cupcake."

All told, lawyers for Sprinkles said, they have sent about a dozen similar letters to shops around the country and filed three lawsuits, including one last month against Famous Cupcakes in North Hollywood for using dots in its packaging and throughout the store.

The trademarked "modern dot," a circle-in-a-circle piece of candy that sits atop every Sprinkles cupcake, helps eaters tell the difference between flavors like lemon coconut and red velvet.


Also of note (but do read the whole LAT piece):

Her sweet shop is dripping in hot pink, and her $3.50-a-pop cakes have whimsical names such as Peanut Butter Yumptious and Whipple Scrumptious. They're stuffed with cookie dough and peanut butter cups and are "ooey-gooey yummy," Jones said.

Sprinkles, on the other hand, has a sleek, modern look. Its $3.25 cupcakes are frosted smooth, with sparse embellishments -- only sprinkles or coconut -- and the modern dot. The texture is more cake- or muffin-like, with frosting so popular the store sells it by the shot.

"If anyone had ever been to Sprinkles, they would never mistake my store or my cupcakes," Jones said.

That's what the owners of Famous Cupcakes in North Hollywood said, too, after Sprinkles sued them last month for using dots in their packaging and decor.

Comments

Mary De Bastos said…
This is outrageous! How horrible for Sprinkles to go after the little guys! It seems like they want to be the only ones selling cupcakes! Horrible...I'll not go into Sprinkles EVER after reading this!!!
Peachfish said…
I saw this one coming from miles away. Someone needs to do some free legal work for these little bakeries that are being terrized by the sprinkles chain. Sprinkles didn't invent the sprinkle and can't keep other people from using variations on the word.
peachfish said…
Also, I wonder if Sprinkles underestimates how bad press like this might affect them? I don't live near one of their shops, but should I travel and be near one, I will not buy from them as I disagree with their agressive tactics. I imagine if more people knew how they were behaving, they might choose to stay away as well.
Mab said…
So I laughed and shook my head when they went after Famous Cupcakes but this is ridiculous, so much so I was inspired to finally start that blog all my friends said i needed to have haha. http://redshoes13.blogspot.com/
Anonymous said…
NOt only did Sprinkles not invent the cupcake. They did not invent the word "Sprinkles" trademarked or not. I think that "Sprinkeled Pink Cupcake Couture" should call the lawyers and fight this. I mean I believe that cupcakeries are the new donut shop and did winchells go around suing all the other donut shops. It's really very disturbing. What would Oprah say about Sprinkles disgusting new habit of suing "the little guys"?!
Anonymous said…
Not able to use dots on you packages is what is weird to me!! The modern dot does kind of scream sprinkles now but no one can use dots or Dot packaging. OMG grow up or get a custom made paper then trademark that! Like they do not have enough money yet!
Anonymous said…
Ok this is IT!!!! I have not yet made the trip to my local Sprinkles to try there cupcakes and now I know I will NOT. How much is to much when it comes to cornering the market on cupcakes. I really thought part of becoming successful is to share the wealth with others. I am not saying that the owners of Sprinkles need to give up what the have rightly earned but to keep others from doing the same is ridiculous!!! I agree with the fact that Sprinkles did not invent the cupcake or the sprinkles that top them. Shame on you Sprinkles.

Debbie/Phx AZ
Shannan said…
What is going on with the owner of Sprinkles? I am surprised they have time to make cupcakes with all the continuous searching they are doing to make sure no one infringes on their symbols or trademarks. I hope they don't decide that the cupcake is exclusively theirs...we will all be in trouble. Hmmm, maybe they've been doing too many of their own frosting shots.
Anonymous said…
Sprinkles is very well funded by billionaire developer Herb Simon. The owners of Sprinkles were investment bankers before they hooked up with a business plan. So to complete the "deal" they need to own dots, sprinkles, trays, etc. They are a scary group - and not who they appear to be.
Anonymous said…
I don't know why Sprinkles is getting their panties in a bunch about the Sprinkled Pink Cupcake Couture establishment. Having been to the Sprinkles in Beverly Hills several times and now seeing pictures of this new place, it is easy to see that THEY ARE NOT THE SAME. NO ONE WOULD BE CONFUSED. THEY ARE IN FACT COMPLETE OPPOSITES. Simple vs. Surreal. Besides, if you put "sprinkle, sprinkles, or sprinkled" into google, you still get the Sprinkles Cupcakes website as your first and second hit. They are just shooting themselves in the foot with all these lawsuits by giving themselves bad publicity and giving the new stores free, fun, sympathy publicity. I know I won't be going to Sprinkles anymore just because I don't want to support a bully.
WickedScorp said…
Here's a Wikipedia article on trademarks.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trademark#Maintaining_trademark_rights

Note the bit that says:

'In the case of a trademark registration, failure to actively use the mark in the lawful course of trade, or to enforce the registration in the event of infringement, may also expose the registration itself to become liable for an application for the removal from the register after a certain period of time on the grounds of "non-use".'

And although the next bit goes on to say that the trademark owner need not go after every 'minor' infringement, the bit following that says failure to take action before the infringing party has gained notoriety can result in loss of trademark.

Which is more time consuming? Following the progress of every start-up that pulls 'minor' infringements, or nipping it in the bud to begin with?

I've had people 'borrow' bits and pieces of my ideas and pass them off as their own. Doesn't feel good.

P.S. What a wordy name. How about just 'Pink Cupcake Couture', or 'Cupcake Couture', or if they insist, 'Tickled Pink Cupcake Couture'. All cute... and not as obvious.
C.L. said…
Well, if I am ever near a Sprinkles, you can be sure I won't be buying from them. What they are doing is just wrong. How sad.
yoli said…
I mean really come on. Sprinkles needs to concentrate on all that business there are getting and lay off other's. I'm not residing there in the moment. I'm in The Kingdom of Bahrain and in the process of making my shop and IT"S Cupcake's Are they gonna come get me to. Well bring it on. I'm waiting to see what happens. Everyone is doing cupcakes and have there own style and I thought it was land of the FREE. Huh? GoodLuck to all over there You have my blessing's. Cali ( In the Desert)
Anonymous said…
Actually "wickedscorp" - Sprinkled Pink has been using the name since 2003 as a local caterer. It was registered, but not trademarked. Maybe Sprinkles saw it and used her mark. Maybe the owner of Sprinkled Pink should sue Sprinkles!
Chris said…
This is just getting ridiculous. Sprinkles has lost a customer with me, that is for sure.

That makes, what four of us in comments alone stating we won't go to Sprinkles now?

I can only imagine how many customers they are going to lose in the long run.


Not enough, sadly.
Anonymous said…
Having been a cupcake store that was sued by Sprinkles - I wish someone would set up a blog for all those sued by Sprinkles and a defense fund.
Anonymous said…
I don't think that Sprinkles is trying to shut down other cupcake shops. They're just protecting their ideas. Also, Sprinkles is NOT a big chain picking on little guys. Do your homework.

Anyone who says they won't go to Sprinkles now should get ready to change their entire life, because if you stop supporting any business that ever sued for trademark infringement, you'll have nowhere to go!

Wake up!
Anonymous said…
Dear Wake Up - I have done my homework and Sprinkles is unequivocally owned by two former investment bankers that got a billionaire investor to support them to open. Good for them! I wouldn't call them the neighborhood bakery.

They have aggressively sued small cupcake stores for totally frivolous reasons - and that is NOT good business. I don't think you can trademark a dot - if anyone owns it - it's Target. And Sprinkled Pink was a registered business since 2003 - long before there was a Sprinkles.

Right now Sprinkles is in active litigation with 2 cupcake stores in California - sure doesn't have warm and fuzzy vibes.

Do you have any idea what it costs to sue and be sued? Picture Sprinkled Pink --- they were a small catering business for years and finally put their heart and sole into opening their first store and 6 weeks after they were open - got a letter from Sprinkles.

My take is that all those Hollywood personalities - will not want to be associated with a cupcake store that is headlined in the LA Times. A smart agent would tell their celebrity clients - go elsewhere for your sweet needs.

And for the rest of us - who are just regular folks - I say - let's not support a bully.
Anonymous said…
WOW! I only just read this article, and I'm seeing red. Red sprinkles, that is. (Will I get in trouble, too?)

Talk about being self-absorbed...

Next thing you know, they'll be suing my dog for sprinkling on the carpet.
Anonymous said…
This is a funny blog ---
http://obscurestore.typepad.com/obscure_store_and_reading/2008/09/sprinkles-gets.html
Anonymous said…
Montecito, CA

I imagine that if Sprinkled Pink Cupcakes was one of the first, if not the first BIG cupcake shop in the US they would be acting the same way… Sprinkles is just protecting themselves…

Cupcakes are the new trend and business owners are jumping on that right away… I think the lawsuit is not necessary only because I’ve tasted from both shops. Both are very good and very different. Would I still drive two hours to the nearest Sprinkles…? YOU BETTER BELIVE IT!
Anonymous said…
Someone would drive two hours to Sprinkles Cupcakes? Why not just fish some cardboard out of the recycling bin and dip it in frosting? Same difference.
Miranda said…
I had always wanted to go to a Sprinkles shop just to try their cupcakes. Being as I live in Nebraska, that was less than likely. I'm disgusted with how the Sprinkles chain is acting... I'll never go now. I don't want to give my money to a shop who is picking on the little guy.
Kristen said…
I visited Santa Barbara this weekend and went there to see the shop and it is adorable and matches the name... but the owner said she is changing the name so she doesn't have to battle Sprinkles. The cupcakes were great and my favorite was a french toast/waffle cupcake. Delicious. My whole family agreed that they should keep the name because it matches the shop!
Ghadeer said…
well I don't think Sprinkles invented the cupcake, this is really horrible and frustrating to small business owners, i see that both names are totally different!!
Lori said…
Geeze... hey ever hear of Crumbs... also in Beverly Hills a about a block away from Sprinkles? I was a total Sprinles fan... would stop every time we drove down the 405. One day the line was out the door down the street and that day we were in a hurry and someone told us there was a "way better" shop down the street. So off we went and found CRUMBS whos cupcakes were larger and much more interesting. Also they had yummy Pomegranate Italian soda which was great. The cupcakes were SO much better! Sprinkles had better watch out and worry about their business rather than little cupcakes shops hours away from their shop!