SALT LAKE CITY — Like the film it was named after, the Breakfast at Tiffany's cupcake developed at Mini's Cupcakes in Salt Lake City was meant to stand alone.
And it did, shop owner Leslie Fiet claims, until another cupcakery — Park City's LuAnn's Cupcakes — began selling the "infringing" Tiffany's Jewels cupcake, leading the two local vendors to square off over cupcakes topped in Tiffany blue.
"It's our signature cupcake," Fiet said. "The Diva and the Breakfast at Tiffany's are our two top-selling cupcakes, bar none."
When customers started purchasing the Tiffany Jewels cupcake expecting the Breakfast at Tiffany's and came back confused, Fiet claims, she felt forced to take action. She eventually filed a complaint in federal court seeking damages for trade dress infringement.
"I spent a lot of time on that, and it's hard to have someone take that," she said. "You have to protect yourself. Our recipes are unique and special, and if someone were to eat something that they thought was mine but isn't up to my standards … that's not something I want."
The cupcake in question is innocent enough. Vanilla cake, cream cheese frosting in the Tiffany signature robin's egg blue, topped with silver and white "gems." But Fiet said it was a design she worked long and hard on, and it has a strong association with her company.
"In combination, these features create a distinctive and unique appearance. Consumers and retailers recognize the inherently distinctive trade dress of the Breakfast at Tiffany's cupcake and associate it exclusively with Mini's," the complaint states.
Fiet said she took other measures and attempted to contact LuAnn's owner, LuAnn Lukenbach, asking her to make some changes that would make the cupcakes less similar — even sending a cease and desist order — but Fiet said nothing worked, prompting the court action.
The competing cupcake's variation on a Tiffany's theme isn't what bothers Fiet. She dislikes that the cupcake is "strikingly similar, substantially duplicated, virtually identical," according to the complaint.
"I'm so sick to my stomach over this, you have no idea," Fiet said. "I'm a small-business owner, she's a small-business owner; I get it. But I've worked very hard on my cupcakes … and she's still selling them, working off of what I've built. It's just like I don't want you to have one exactly like mine."
Reached by the Deseret News, Lukenbach said she didn't want to comment on the cupcake war. Lukenbach's attorneys did not return calls for comment.
Fiet's attorney, Romaine Marshall, said he has been negotiating with Lukenbach's attorney but is not sure whether the case will be able to be resolved outside of court.
"Our case is airtight," Marshall said. "So I'm optimistic on that point. I think we'll get a resolution in our favor, whether in court or not."