Cupcake competitors head to court

Associated Press / July 19, 2011

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NEW HAVEN - Candace Nelson plays a judge on the Food Network’s reality television show “Cupcake Wars.’’ But now her cupcake company has taken up a legal fight of its own against an upstart business.

Nelson’s Sprinkles Cupcakes is so frosted that it filed a federal trademark-infringement lawsuit Friday against a store named Pink Sprinkles, claiming the similarity in names is likely to cause confusion in the marketplace.

The lawsuit says Sprinkles opened its first store in Beverly Hills in 2005 and became a national phenomenon as the cupcakes were featured on shows hosted by Oprah Winfrey, Martha Stewart, and others. Sprinkles, based in Texas, has stores in New York, Washington, D.C., California, Dallas, Houston, and Scottsdale, Ariz., and is planning to open several more around the country and in London, Paris, and Toronto.

Pink Sprinkles opened in 2009 and calls itself “Fairfield’s first cupcake boutique.’’

Messages left yesterday for the owner of Pink Sprinkles were not immediately returned.

Sprinkles has repeatedly requested that Pink Sprinkles “promptly transition to a new name’’ but it has refused, the lawsuit says.

Charles Nelson, who owns Sprinkles with his wife, said he tried to resolve the dispute amicably but was not successful.

“It’s not about competition,’’ Nelson said. ‘It’s just about our name.’’