Pillsbury has told a New York food co-op to stop using the phrase “bake-off” because they own it. Pillsbury coined the phrase back in 1949 (according to this unverifiable web source), and then trademarked it in the early 1970s (according to another). Now you know. (Thanks to Sarah!)

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Bake-Off official site

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  1. Cad06 says:

    I would say the only way to settle this and it is not in the courts.

    “BAKE-OFF!” Winner take name.

  2. TechnoDestructo says:

    Try this verifiable one.

    [tess2.uspto.gov]

  3. timmus says:

    Oh, General Mills… isn’t that the company that had the E. coli mess in Jenos and Totinos pizza? Maybe the Potsdam Co-op could get a waiver if they put some E. coli in their baked goods too.

  4. UCLAJason says:

    They have apparently registered a trademark for “Bake Off”. This does not mean that Pillsbury would win a lawsuit. I would say there is a very strong argument that the term “Bake Off” is now generic and any TM of the term should be considered invalid.

  5. Amelie says:

    I find it hard to believe one can copyright a term that was in public use before a company decided to make it “theirs.” I don’t buy their crap anyway.

  6. cloudedice says:

    Data from TESS:
    Typed Drawing
    Word Mark BAKE-OFF
    Goods and Services IC 016. US 038. G & S: COOK BOOKS. FIRST USE: 19580000. FIRST USE IN COMMERCE: 19580000
    Mark Drawing Code (1) TYPED DRAWING
    Serial Number 72283029
    Filing Date October 20, 1967
    Current Filing Basis 1A
    Original Filing Basis 1A
    Registration Number 0871348
    Registration Date June 17, 1969
    Owner (REGISTRANT) PILLSBURY COMPANY, THE CORPORATION DELAWARE 1343 PILLSBURY BLDG. MINNEAPOLIS MINNESOTA 55402
    Type of Mark TRADEMARK
    Register PRINCIPAL
    Affidavit Text SECT 15.
    Renewal 1ST RENEWAL 19890617
    Live/Dead Indicator LIVE

  7. Maulleigh says:

    It’s sucks but that’s capitalism. If you don’t respect the little things (and this is LITTLE), then you have to let go of the big things.

  8. kris in seattle says:

    @UCLAJason: I agree. It’s right up there with “You’re fired.” and “That’s hot.”

  9. UCLAJason says:

    @cloudedice:
    No one is doubting Pillsbury has registered Trademarked this term. The issue I bring up is the question of whether this term is generic. In other words a name for a thing can not be a trademark for a thing. How else is one supposed to describe a bake off except for to use the term “Bake Off”. To be valid a Trademark must answer the questions “Who are you and Where do you come from?” If a mark simply tells one what the product is rather where it comes from it is generic. Under said test there is a very strong argument that even if the term “Bake Off” was once eligible for a TM (which is itself questionable as ZOUXOU notes) there is a good argument that the term today is generic and the registration should be cancelled.

  10. jgw says:

    Will they also ask companies to stop using it to describe soliciting multiple pitches from investment banks?

  11. clocker says:

    The DOH!Boy strikes again.

  12. clarient says:

    Would it be totally out of the realm of logical thinking to argue that this term is already public domain? I can’t imagine General Mills even coming close to being able to control usage of the phrase.

  13. BlackestRose says:

    S’ok – Marvel owns “Superhero”tm.

    No overly large, men in tights for YOU!

  14. crypticgeek says:

    @cloudedice: If this is right, isn’t the mark only legally extended to cookbooks? No one could confuse a community “bake-off” event with pillsbury “bake-off” cook books, could they? As far as I can see, even IF it was a valid mark (it’s probably too generic to be) it doesn’t extend protection of the mark to the name of an event.

  15. Munsoned says:

    Is “Bake-Off” or “Bake Off” trademarked? Or both? Does the dash in the middle matter?

  16. Munsoned says:

    The town should just rename it a “Baik off” just for fun.

  17. UCLAJason says:

    In response to:
    CLARIENT:
    If it is generic it is in the public domain.

    CRYPTICGEEK:
    They have another registration which covers this field.

    ERNIEMCCRACKEN:
    Trademark law will recognize “Bake-off”/”Bake Off”/”Baik Off” as the same. Anything confusingly similar is considered the same.

  18. Hepcephus says:

    Why don’t they just rename it the Dinglebury Masterbaker Jerk-off?

  19. DrGirlfriend says:

    I like how they targeted one random food co-op for using this phrase. Next stop: country fairs, quilting bee club fundraisers, and other activities that tend to attract unsavory characters like competitive bakers and their ilk.

  20. LilKoko says:

    Pillsbury will be sorry when someone coins and patents the phrase “Bake-o-rama!©” ® â„¢

  21. mammalpants says:

    well i own the phrase “Violent Stomach Cramp-extraordinaire” and Pillsbury, you are using this in your canned/tubed foods.

    youll be hearing from my lawyers!

  22. cabinaero says:

    @timmus: Actually the E. Coli came from from the company that supplied the pepperoni topping. Yes it was ultimately incorporated into the product, but General Mills wasn’t directly responsible for the contamination.

    Pillsbury has a good argument that they coined the phrase “bake off” but they’ll probably lose the case. “Bake-off” hasn’t been vigorously defended and has become a generic term like “aspirin” or “kleenex”.

  23. savvy999 says:

    So in college, when my stoner friends and I had a Bake Off– putting a certain extra fun ingredient into brownies– we were not only breaking criminal law, we were violating trademark law too? Sweeeeet.