In May of 2013, Chef Dominique Ansel introduced the Cronut, a croissant-donut pastry, to customers at his eatery, the Dominique Ansel Bakery in New York. The dessert has been so revered since then that customers line up around the block every single morning outside of the bakery, sometimes arriving before 7 a.m. in order to ensure a spot.
Word quickly spread about the Cronut and it was soon being imitated in other bakeries across the United States and throughout the world. A few months after he first launched the yummy treat, Ansel decided to trademark it with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). On January 14, 2014 that trademark was granted underneath International Class 30, which is a food category that includes confectionaries, pastries, and breads.
According to Natalie S. Lederman of Sullivan & Worcester, this trademark will “provide enhanced benefits and protections to Chef Ansel, including a broader geographical scope of protection and international deterrence of copycatters, the right to sue infringers in federal court and recover maximum monetary damages he would otherwise be ineligible for, and ultimately, the right to apply for incontestability status.”
Ansel could potentially go after numerous eateries worldwide that are making and selling imitations of his Cronut creation if they use the actual name “Cronut.” However, if they don’t sell the imitations under the trademarked name, there is not much he can do. Some are calling their offerings croissant donuts, while others are serving up “kronuts,” “croughnuts,” and “doissants.” These knockoffs can be found in places like Texas, Spain, California, and even New York City itself.
The pastry chef tweeted out his frustration at the situation last June, saying, “Hey there copycats, if we’re ever in a room together, I will be able to look you in the eye. Will you be able to do the same?”
The trademark for Cronut® has given Ansel more credibility, but even that won’t be able to fully stop the fakers.