Pillsbury Sends Cease & Desist To 'Dough Girl' Bakery

from the a-recipe-for-doughy-disaaster dept

Another day, another story of a questionable trademark nastygram from a big corporation against a small business. The latest involves baked goods giant Pillsbury (a part of food conglomerate General Mills), who apparently took offense to a small Salt Lake City bakery called "My Dough Girl" and sent a cease & desist. Honestly, it took me a while to make the connection here. Yes, Pillsbury has the "Pillsbury Dough Boy," but that always seems to include the Pillsbury name. The article claims that the owner of the bakery checked on any "copyright infringement," which might explain the problem... this is a trademark issue, not a copyright one (though, I'm guessing this is just confusion on the part of the bakery owner, the reporter, or both).

Of course, these sorts of stories show up all the time. There were a couple of interesting elements in this one. While no lawsuit was actually filed, the fear that a legal nastygram from a giant firm can engender in a small business becomes clear. The owner of the store was so afraid of a lawsuit, she wouldn't even talk to reporters. It's not clear why talking to a reporter would make the situation any worse, but it does show how fearful a single letter has made this woman. In fact, a different report claims that General Mills' lawyers told her not to talk to the press. That's pretty ridiculous. Whether or not it's smart to talk to the press, she shouldn't be taking orders from General Mills' counsel. Either way, it looks like the bakery immediately capitulated and agreed to change its name, at a cost of $50,000. Ouch.

Even more interesting, though, is the reason this story is getting attention isn't because the bakery is fighting it, but because a bunch of fans of the bakery have used the internet to spread the word about how they really don't appreciate Pillsbury bullying their local bakery, which no one confused with the food giant in the first place. The article above also says that General Mills asked the owner to "kill the Facebook page," even though she didn't create it and has no control over it. In fact, she seems afraid that the Facebook page is making things worse. Still, it's quite a testament to modern technology that this is even possible. Can you imagine patrons of a small business standing up to a giant corporation without the small business' support in the past?

However, all it's really doing is calling a lot more attention to incredible bullying by a company like General Mills against a small company that has a legitimate claim to the name. One of these days, perhaps lawyers will realize that legal bullying leads to backlash, but I guess we still haven't reach that point yet.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 3rd, 2010 @ 3:14am

    Give me the dough or be vanquished!

     

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  2.  
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    Chris Meadows (profile), Aug 3rd, 2010 @ 3:15am

    To the front, day and night
    Where the doughboys dig and fight
    And those caissons go rolling along.
    Our barrage will be there
    Fired on the rocket’s glare
    While those caissons go rolling a-long.

    "The Caissons Go Rolling Along"

    An Artillery Song, dedicated to the U. S. Field Artillery
    Written by Gen. Edmund L. Gruber (1908)

    Published 1921 by Shapiro, Bernstein & Co., Inc., New York

     

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  3.  
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    Chris Meadows (profile), Aug 3rd, 2010 @ 3:25am

    Hmm. According to Wikipedia, a "Pillsbury Doughgirl" character, "Poppie", appeared in some commercials and had a toy in the '70s.

    I don't know if legally that gives them a better case ("Doughboy" was a term in common use; "doughgirl" was not) but morally it shouldn't ought to.

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 3rd, 2010 @ 4:39am

    Re:

    I have the Poppie toy in my kitchen. I doubt that Pillsbury had a case but they should have gotten Pillsbury to pony up for a name change.

    I'm just waiting for the last WWI veteran to sue them.

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 3rd, 2010 @ 5:15am

    Isn't this the same as North Face/South Butt?

     

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  6.  
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    Skout (profile), Aug 3rd, 2010 @ 5:40am

    Making them regret it

    The only way we can make General Mills regret this action is to speak loudly and often. I'll join the FB movement and spread the word as best as I can.

     

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  7.  
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    R.gol, Aug 3rd, 2010 @ 5:46am

    PLEASSSSEEE

    This is a perfect example of why there will always be pirated music, software and everything else in this country. As long as these large corporations think they can push people around people will always have that"stick it to the man" mentality.Screw General Mills the freakin dough boy needs to go on a diet any way.

     

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  8.  
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    Skippy T. Mut, Aug 3rd, 2010 @ 5:48am

    Bullying

    In recent years there have been quite a few pissed off soccer mom's trying (successfully) to get "Anti-Bullying" laws passed so that kids can be thrown in jail for picking on other kids. Why don't we apply this to these big companies and start going after them for bullying the rest of us? I'm willing to bet that as soon as you throw the first white, upper-middle class, republican corporate lawyer in jail you will see this corporate bullying stuff begin to slow down pretty f'n quick!

     

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  9.  
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    rbry (profile), Aug 3rd, 2010 @ 5:48am

    PLEASSSSEEE

    This is a perfect example of why there will always be pirated music, software and everything else in this country. As long as these large corporations think they can push people around people will always have that"stick it to the man" mentality.Screw General Mills the freakin dough boy needs to go on a diet any way.

     

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  10.  
    identicon
    Greg G, Aug 3rd, 2010 @ 6:34am

    Re: Bullying

    white, upper-middle class, republican corporate lawyer

    You, sir, are a moron. Why is it some fuckstick always has to blame republicans? You don't know the political affiliation of any of these lawyers that are doing this, and neither do I.

    However, if I had to bet, I'd bet they are liberals (not necessarily demorats (-c on purpose) or republicans).

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 3rd, 2010 @ 6:45am

    Re: Bullying

    Thank you Mr. Carlin...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    me, Aug 3rd, 2010 @ 6:48am

    Re: Bullying

    Right on Mr. Carlin. Perhaps we should find some other means of humiliation to retaliate as well. We could air it on football half time shows. But people might skip church to watch that...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
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    Bill, Aug 3rd, 2010 @ 6:57am

    Re: Bullying

    Who said anything about the lawyers being republican? Also, what does that have to do with anything? Applying those kinds of labels to this kind of story tries to tie politics to something where politics is irrelevant. Your comment would have made just as much sense had the word "republican" not been in there.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 3rd, 2010 @ 7:05am

    Don't need to buy General Mills products either. Ad them to the s**t list.

     

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  15.  
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    interval (profile), Aug 3rd, 2010 @ 7:40am

    Re:

    "Don't need to buy General Mills products either. Ad them to the s**t list."

    Uh, depending on where you live (assuming its somewhere in the US), that could prove to be somewhat complicated. General Mills has many tentacles in the food industry. Be prepared to spend some time researching every box of crackers you buy to trace the chain of ownership up to the final parent company.

     

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  16.  
    identicon
    Pixelation, Aug 3rd, 2010 @ 7:55am

    The doughboys need to go on a diet

    Who wants General Mills crap food? Most of it's bad for you anyway.

    Their "doughboys" (lawyers) need to get a clue.

    Another reason to support your local bakery (or any other business).

     

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  17.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Aug 3rd, 2010 @ 8:12am

    Re: Re: Bullying

    People's 1 of why our two party system flatout sucks. He referenced a Republican (actually, George Carlin did, as I think that was a paraphrase from the comedian), and you got your panties so far in a twist that you went the other equally ridiculous route by betting that they're liberals and throwing a snide and completely unclever name-calling in there for added bonus.

    And now we can all start bitching at each other about Obama this and Bush that and man Regan was just a snuggybear but that Clinton guy was great and blah blah blah blah....meanwhile, change is not affected and the issue does not progress. Which, in case you haven't guessed, is exactly the way those in control want it.

    Please get over this completely insane party affiliation thing. The difference between them is negligable and they both suck donkey dick....

     

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  18.  
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    DataShade (profile), Aug 3rd, 2010 @ 8:50am

    "Pillsbury" always seems to appear next to "Dough Boy" because it *has to.* The phrase "Dough Boy" is not something Pillsbury invented - it was a derogatory terms used by Europeans to describe American troops, starting in the mid-19th century; there are several different explanations of the origin, one being the the dough-like pipe clay that infantrymen used to clean their white uniform belts, another being that the bulky coats worn by the infantry during the marches of the Mexican-American War collected the chalky dust of the road with such thoroughness that, at the end of the day, the average soldier looked as though he'd been rolled in dough.


    So the real question isn't "why is Pillsbury suing this wmoan," the question is "why does Pillsbury hate American soldiers?"

     

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  19.  
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    nasch (profile), Aug 3rd, 2010 @ 9:38am

    Re: Re: Bullying

    They might not all be white either. But that didn't cross your mind, did it? ;-)

     

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  20.  
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    drkkgt (profile), Aug 3rd, 2010 @ 9:52am

    Re: Re: Re: Bullying

    exactly, it always makes me laugh how whichever party has the majority ALWAYS blames the other party when their particular agenda doesn't get passed even though it's based on a majority vote and then the local sheeple take up the cry of damn republicans or stupid democrats. Let's face it, neither group has adhered to the foundation of those two parties in decades and nor do most of them seem to have a foundation they actually stand on for more than a few days.

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 3rd, 2010 @ 12:48pm

    I will make a concerted effort to avoid buying any General Mills or subsidiary co. products during the course of the next year, difficult as that may be (I know they're huge).

    Anyone have a link listing General Mills companies?

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    we're f00ked, Aug 3rd, 2010 @ 2:51pm

    wow, not just food

    LeeWards Creative Crafts, Eddie Bauer and Talbot are also members of the General Mills family of Companies

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    Dough Eater, Aug 3rd, 2010 @ 3:52pm

    Pick on someone your own size...

    Being that the "My Dough Girl" bakery only sells to people who COME TO THEM at their bakery (full well knowing they aren't walking into a Pillsbury bakery), and not the refridgerated section of the grocery store- Pillsbury has no argument that the "Dough" name will lead to any confusion.

    Pillsbury attorney's are bored and money hungry.

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    Stenar, Aug 3rd, 2010 @ 8:47pm

    Dough girl WAS a common term during WW2. There was even a movie called "The Doughgirls" in 1944.

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    Jon, Aug 8th, 2010 @ 3:32pm

    SHAME on General Mills

    SHAME on General Mills who is just another BIG BAD Corporation. This is what life will be like more and more as the Facist Government takes over our lives and continues to eliminate the real life blood of our nation which is the Local Small Business'. We will loose all of the real ceative and passionate people who can turn a cookie into something exciting and delicious and not just a shitty tube of sugar and flour in the supermarket refrigerator.

     

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  26.  
    identicon
    Jana Thomson, Aug 10th, 2010 @ 9:49am

    Dough girl

    I love your last comment regarding the little guy standing up against big corp and the lawyers bullying the small company. I am in a legal dispute from a major property company. I have documentation to prove I am in the right but I have been bullied by 2 different lawyers, called a liar by both. They are moving my case from small claims court to district and suing me for $20,000.00. They would cease if I sign a confidentiality agreement w/o my rent deposit or compensation for becoming ill due to mold in their rental space. When will the small guy win? What I want to know is why Pillsbury just offer her to change the logo and help her recoup her costs?

     

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  27.  
    identicon
    Trademark Attorney Arizona, Aug 23rd, 2010 @ 2:26pm

    David v. Goliath

    This narrative comes around over and over in some version: Goliath sends David nasty legal letter, David publishes letter, David gets attention and support. Often times Goliath decides it isn't worth the PR hit to sue and instead enters into a private settlement. Looks like here, David fell, though. Sad, but I hope that Dough Girl gets a boost from the local economy that lets her forget about the legal problems.

     

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  28.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 26th, 2011 @ 6:10am

    yeehaaa!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 26th, 2011 @ 6:10am

    yeehaaa!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
    identicon
    Ordinary American, Jul 17th, 2013 @ 10:07am

    Re: Re: Bullying

    The only thing we can blame those bastard liberals for is the elimination of cholera, typhoid, polio, and small pox. Those terrible liberals are to blame for letting blacks ride up front with WHITE people as if blacks were people. Thank those vile liberals for legislating for better pay and work conditions for people who work for a living. I'm no friend to Democrats but if we're headed into the dark ages I can put my entire life savings on the fact that some deadicated patriotic rebublicons were ramrodding this country straight to hell.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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