Cupcake kerfuffle: Sprinkles settles trademark infringement case

There’s room for only one cupcake company called Sprinkles, and that’s the one in Beverly Hills, a newly settled lawsuit seems to suggest.

The popular chain, which first launched in Southern California in 2005, recently settled a trademark infringement lawsuit against a Fairfield, Conn., bakery that was calling itself Pink Sprinkles.

That business, which opened in 2009, is now calling itself the Pink Cupcake Shack. Its website calls the shop “Fairfield’s first cupcake boutique in Brick Walk Promenade” and touts the staff’s decades of experience.

“The client had no idea there was anything called Sprinkles Cupcakes, because there were no stores here,” said Alan Neigher, an attorney for Pink Cupcake Shack. “It was an innocent mistake, and it was resolved amicably.”

Sprinkles filed suit in July against the Fairfield store in federal court in New Haven. Sprinkles claimed that the dueling names were “likely to cause confusion in the marketplace” and “damage Sprinkles and injure its reputation in the trade and with the public.”

Indeed, Sprinkles has worked hard to nurture its image. Founder Candace Nelson is a judge on Cupcake Wars, a reality show on the Food Network. Her cupcakes have been featured on "The Oprah Winfrey Show," "The Today Show," "Entertainment Tonight" and more.

The chain sells Sprinkles cupcake mix inWilliams-Sonomastores, including several in Connecticut, according to the suit.

In addition to existing stores in New York, Chicago and several other cities, Sprinkles said in the suit that it plans to expand to Boston, Philadelphia, Toronto, London and Paris. There's even a Sprinkles truck.

And cupcakes are a high stakes game. In recent years, the baked goods have become so trendy that a favorite activity of food trend watchers is guessing what the “next cupcake” will be.

With so much competition, Sprinkles has been a fearsome protector of its name. In 2008, the company went after Montecito, Calif., baker Sprinkled Pink Cupcake Couture, sending a letter demanding a name change the day after the store opened.

An attorney for Sprinkles could not be reached for comment.

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