Just some reminders . . .

(1) Winning a claim of trademark infringement is a lot easier when there’s some similarity between the marks; and

(2) Recipes and concepts are not copyrightable.

Rebecca Tushnet provides an excellent analysis of the court’s findings in her summary of the Jessica Seinfeld cookbook decision (and do I have to say again that I hate when copyright infringement is referred to as plagiarism?)  The side-by-side photo of the two cookbooks’ covers says it all.  I’m relieved that the court ruled the way it did.

But getting to the nitty-gritty: Camouflaging healthful foods to get nutrients into kids?  Oy, have I nothing better to do with my day?  We found that a steady diet of Food Network was the best way to get the kids to try healthful foods (Michael Chiarello was their favorite, for no identifiable reason) – as well as involving them in the cooking process.  Of course, they now count sushi, steak grilled rare and Dungeness crab among their favorite dishes, but I’d prefer that to mac ‘n’ cheese any day, with or without cauliflower in it.

P.S. though to Ms. Seinfeld – “Get your kids eating good food” is about the weakest tagline I’ve ever heard.  Did you really have to put the “tm” bug on it?

Edited to add that Marty has posted the decision at the Trademark Blog.

Complaining about the noisy neighbors on board the Titanic

If, as Slate predicts, the cupcake boom will soon go bust, why does one of the larger players in the cookie jar insist on bullying its competitors over weak trademark claims?  Honestly, “sprinkles” is weak in the ice cream and frozen yogurt field – not to mention generic of the stuff that is, ahem, sprinkled on top of cupcakes, ice cream and frozen yogurt (I’ll add a “duh” in case my teenage daughter reads this one).  Add to that what appears to be some aggressive attempts at enforcing their allegedly distinctive concentric circle design (hello? FUNCTIONAL, just look at this chart, not to mention the comments here), and you’ve got a company that’s giving itself some terrifically negative press in an already tight market.  To wit, from this blog:

It’s a giant sprinkle. If your cupcakes taste good you should have
nothing to worry about. Also – like I said – IT”S A GIANT SPRINKLE. I
mean I know we live in a day and age where branding is super important,
but when it comes down to it, the people that would mix the two
companies up aren’t coming to shop for your name anyways [sic], they’re
probably coming because they want some cake and you’re nearby.

What may really be happening here is that Sprinkles Cupcakes has no chance of stopping the most recent defendant’s actual use of Sprinkles – a Google search turns up many ice cream and yogurt shops all over the country with Sprinkles in the name, many of which I’m sure long predate Sprinkles Cupcakes’ use of the term (and could come back to bite them in the frosting when they undertake their prospective national expansion, as well as when they try to register the mark for ice cream, I might add).  IMHO, it looks like the cupcake folks may, however clumsily, be trying to protect the PTO register from the incursion of other owners.  While that goal is legitimate, there may be a gentler way to achieve it while also maintaining corporate goodwill in a competitive but risky environment.

Also, tachlis: if you want to be the Starbucks of cupcakes, choose a more distinctive name, okay? 

P.S. I recognize that I have in the past lauded one-word restaurant/retail establishment names and am trying to rationalize my reaction to Sprinkles as compared to, for example, Chipotle or Garbanzo.  I think it comes down to two things: (1) Sprinkles has been a common name for ice cream “shoppes” for years before Sprinkles Cupcakes came on the scene; and (2) THEY’RE SPRINKLES!  RIGHT THERE ON TOP OF THE CONES AND CUPCAKES!  HOW MUCH MORE OBVIOUS COULD IT BE?

Okay, I think it’s time for a break now!

H/t Leslie Blythe Miller – chef, food blogger, and longtime partner in crime.

For our collective Benefit

I’d like to pay tribute today to one of my favorite brands – Benefit Cosmetics.  Benefit has been referred to as the “friskiest luxury brand,” and with products such as BADgal mascara, You Rebel tinted moisturizer, Dear John (“a movin’ on facial cream“), and thrrrob “turned on facial powder,” combined with a winkingly retro graphic design, their target demographic would seem to be twenty- and young thirty-somethings.  And I’m sure that demographic provides the lion’s share of their sales.

But my secret-no-more is what Benefit offers to us femmes d’un certain age: The most comprehensive line of eye care and undereye dark circle camouflage products around.  Thanks to Lemon Aid, Boi-ing, Eye Bright, Ooh la Lift and Lyin’ Eyes (guess what song is now going through your head?), I can leave the house without strangers wondering if I’ve either had a serious mascara malfunction or have simply not slept in the past decade.

Yes, this undereye maintenance regime is pricey.  But I prefer the expense to scaring myself to death when I catch my reflection in the mirror.

So bravo, Benefit.  Now can you please please please bring back Bahama Mama lipstick?