So many of you have written in recent months for an update on my sob story concerning the new Paris cupcakery who trademarked & opened shop with a name almost identical to Little Miss Cupcake (a name I have been using since 2008)....Here's Part 2 and a Happy Ending!
When I last wrote I described my efforts to settle this amicably. Whereby the CopyCat sicced her lawyer on me. At this point, I felt I had no choice but to file an opposition with the INPI, France's equivalent of the Trademark Office. My lawyer explained this was likely a lost cause but a mandatory first step if I wanted to fight this. Why? A search of the INPI online database shows not a single case where a non-trademarked brand (that would be me) successfully blocked a trademark filing of a similarly named company. But I understood it had to be done.
So it was no surprise when I received the official reply from the INPI stating I had failed to show evidence that Little Miss Cupcake is a well-known name among the Parisian cupcake eating public. Despite the fact that I submitted over 250 pages of press articles naming Little Miss Cupcake as a pioneer and one of the more established cupcake bakers on the market; order invoices from well-known corporate clients; visitor statistics from my blog and other social media; emails from individuals and corporations interested in partnering with me; my ownership of the domain names, etc. In their reply they stated that only proved that Little Miss Cupcake exists but not as a trademarked brand; that I am written about frequently; that I get lots of orders; that I have a lot of people online who are interested in me and my company news as well as people interested in doing business with my company. BUT this fails to prove that Little Miss Cupcake is a brand that people know of. I can’t say I follow this logic at all but then I guess that is what bureaucracy is all about.
As infuriated and depressed this news left me I realized I had to accept the ruling and move on. My lawyer laid out my options : 1) keep my head down and co-exist in the market with CopyCat, 2) take CopyCat to court, 3) wait to see if CopyCat came after me for "counterfeiting" her brand (can you imagine?), or 4) proactively change my name. My lawyer felt strongly about option #2 and mapped out the road ahead. But as I listened to her drone on about the process, I wasn't sure I was ready for a long, drawn-out, expensive court battle. Preparing my dossier for the INPI had been difficult enough and took me weeks to pull together. The prospect of living with this for another year, sapping my energies and leaving me in a constant state of stress just wasn't an option for me. So for the short-term, I decided to take my time and weigh my options before moving forward. Besides, I was so busy before the summer and happily distracted doing what I love doing: baking, rather than focusing on this ugly affair.
And then the emails and blog comments started rolling in.
People who had visited CopyCat's shop thinking she was me wrote to accuse me of photo-shopping or stealing the pictures on my blog because what they had seen in "my" shop didn't look anything like what was advertised online. Or that I was a hack - after a visit to "my" shop, they decided I must be paying people to write glowing reviews about me because my cupcakes tasted like (expletive removed!). One woman went so far as to tell me I should be ashamed of being an American and to sell my products as “cupcakes” was an insult to the US! F*ck me! All this time I was steamed that CopyCat was going to profit from my reputation, it never even occurred to me that she could ruin it, and man did that piss me off. After the 40th or so email of this type (and my god were some of these people nasty!), I decided it was time to take matters into my own hands.
I don’t want to stagnate in this situation – it’s tiring, it’s frustrating and I don't like putting negative energy out there. So I've decided it's time to make a break with the past. It's the only way I can safeguard what I have worked so hard to build. I'll be slowly phasing out Little Miss Cupcake as the "official" name of my cupcake entreprise these next few weeks. She served me well, and I'll always carry a piece of her with me, but it's time to put some distance between myself and CopyCat.
Introducing...drum roll please...Sugar Daze! I may have a new name but I remain your best Paris source for delicious, fresh-baked American-style cupcakes! And most importantly, I have filed for the trademark. Help me spread the word!
I've learned some very painful but valuable lessons about running a business these past few months. I'm still in shock over French policies regarding trademarks and rights of use. And disappointed that I am the one who has to pay so dearly in a situation where I truly believe I was wronged. All because I made the rookie mistake of not trademarking my business name! But I am sick of feeling angry and bitter. Time to turn the page on this chapter and move on. Bye Bye Little Miss Cupcake, and HELLO Sugar Daze!
Thanks to all of you who have stood by me in these troubling times. Your friendship and support have meant more to me than you will ever know! And thanks to Aleberry Creative for designing my funky new logo!
Get Sugar Dazed: www.sugardazecupcakes.com