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.

Filed Under: ,
Companies: facebook, general mills, my dough girl, pillsbury

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Pillsbury Sends Cease & Desist To 'Dough Girl' Bakery”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
Chris Meadows (profile) says:

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

Skippy T. Mut says:


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!

Greg G says:

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).

Dark Helmet (profile) says:

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….

drkkgt (profile) says:

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.

Bill says:

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.

interval (profile) says:

Re: 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.

DataShade (profile) says:

“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?”

Dough Eater says:

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.

Jon says:

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.

Jana Thomson says:

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?

Trademark Attorney Arizona (user link) says:

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.

Ordinary American says:


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.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...