Fight Over Ice Cream Flavor Trademark Takes Icy Turn

Times Staff Writer

A battle over rights to the name of a popular ice cream flavor escalated Wednesday when Haagen-Dazs vowed to seek the cancellation of Baskin-Robbins' Pralines 'N Cream trademark.

Minneapolis-based Pillsbury Co., parent of Haagen-Dazs, said the trademark-infringement suit filed against it last week by Glendale-based Baskin-Robbins Ice Cream Co. was "frivolous and unwarranted." Baskin-Robbins claimed that Haagen-Dazs, based in Englewood Cliffs, N.J., engaged in unfair competition by introducing its Pralines & Cream ice cream flavor last October.

"It is our position that the Baskin-Robbins allegations are entirely false and without merit," said John L. Morrison, a senior Pillsbury executive. He added that Pillsbury is seeking to cancel Baskin-Robbins' Pralines 'N Cream trademark because "we believe that it was improperly or inadvertently issued by the trademark office."

Ronald B. Marley, president and chief executive of Baskin-Robbins, said in a telephone interview from Detroit that he believes it will be "extremely difficult" for Pillsbury to void the 6-year-old Pralines 'N Cream trademark.

"The main point is that we will not sit idly by and let folks take the name," Marley said. "The ice cream dipping-store business is very competitive. These folks are trying to get every advantage possible."

Marley said the pralines-cream flavor is the No. 1 ice cream sold through dipping stores nationwide, regardless of brand name. Baskin-Robbins' 3,000 franchise units alone sell about 4 million gallons a year of the vanilla ice cream, which is laced with a caramel ribbon and toffee-coated pecans.

"Each side will have its day in court, and that's when the real battle will start," Marley said.

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