What do Hugh Jackman, Heidi Klum and Emma Roberts have in common? Aside from their obvious stardom and fame, they have all got a MAJOR sweet-tooth. But not just any treat will do. Dominique Ansel’s Cronut, the hybrid between a croissant and doughnut, has taken these celebrities’ dessert palates into delicious overdrive and it doesn’t just stop there. The pastry has caused quite some uproar in the world of intellectual property as well.
Naturally, when patrons are lining the sidewalks of New York City at 7:00am in hopes to snag one of these treats (maximum two per customer, please), it’s going to garner the attention of local and national pâtissiers. Like the old adage goes “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”- but not so fast according to Mr. Ansel. The inventor of the Cronut isn’t impressed with the sudden emergence of copy-cat treats and is in particular objection to the shops that are advertising their treats as Cronuts.
While, the “Cronut man” had plans to trademark the dessert in mid-2013, it was only in January of 2014 that the Cronut became officially registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. The registration number is 4,465,439, to be exact. Instead of simply “Cronut,” it is now officially Cronut®.
Dominique Ansel Bakery (DAB) took to Facebook to shed some light on their decision to trademark the good. DAB thanked their fans for their unwavering support and explained quite succinctly that the decision to register with the USTPO was to “fully protect [the] Cronut® brand from unwanted affiliations.”
We can hardly blame them. With clever imposters and some serious bandwagon hoppers using witty monikers like “croughnut”, “Kronums” and “crogels”, it was about time someone put a halt to the madness.
From another posting on Facebook, DAB writes that “there is a barrage [of] misinformation being wrongfully spread about the nature of our Cronut trademark along with malicious attacks against our Chef . . . [who] has never claimed he invented all fried-laminated dough recipes nor stated he was the first to ever fry laminated dough.”
Mr. Ansel had simply asked other bakeries to stop selling similar products and/or to stop aligning themselves with the real deal Cronut®. Upon such requests many bakers grew upset, defensive, and even downright nasty.
While the decision to trademark the Cronut hasn’t been a very popular one in the opinion of many pastry chefs, it has provided unique fodder to the legal community.
It is here that food and intellectual property collide.
Sabrina Baig, J.D. Candidate 2017, Rutgers School of Law – Newark
Copyright 2014 Sabrina Baig