October 28, 2014

Small Business Owner for the Win- Dunkin' Respects Cronut Trademark

by Guest Blogger

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This weekend I watched a family member's rural peewee football team play a wealthy suburban team. To say we were out-gunned would be an understatement. The other team had a full roster of backups for every position, their logo painted on their perfectly manicured field, personalized jerseys, and their own announcers. On the other hand, our team played with ten players for most of the game (nine for most of the fourth quarter).

Both teams played hard, showed great sportsmanship, and had fun. But, as a life-long fan of any underdog, I couldn't help but notice how having resources is such a huge advantage in life, even when it's just a bunch of good kids trying to have fun together.

So, needless to say, I was tickled pink this morning when my wife pointed out that Dunkin' Donuts (a giant company) was forced to address the trademark of a small New York bakery when introducing its newest pastry to the national media.

The pastry in question is a croissant-doughnut hybrid, made popular by the Dominique Ansel Bakery in 2013. Ansel called his creation the "Cronut" and applied for federal trademark protection for the name. The Cronut is wildly popular (we're talking "long lines and month-long waiting lists" popularity) and predominantly featured in the national news media.

On Monday, Dunkin' Donuts plans to release its own limited edition croissant-doughnut hybrid. It's not calling its pastry a Cronut, but is instead using the generic term "croissant doughnut" (because trademarks). More interesting, however, is the fact that Dunkin' Donuts is being forced to answer questions about how their croissant doughnut is different than the Cronut, even though (according to Dunkin') people have been making croissant doughnuts for over twenty years. Chalk one up for the little guys.

My point isn't that companies are bad just because they are big. Dunkin' Donuts is an excellent company (with delicious coffee) and is being nothing but respectful of the Cronut trademark. The point is that with intentional branding and marketing and a few hundred dollars invested in a federal trademark registration, small businesses can level the playing field with large businesses with nearly unlimited resources.

The lawyers at Trademarkology provide trademark registration services backed by the experience and service of one of the nation's oldest law firms. Click here to begin the process of protecting your brand name with a federally registered trademark.