A small shop in Sherbrooke, Québec called Choco-Là makes and sells a soft-centered cookie made with butter, caramel and a chocolate coating. Not only is it similar to the iconic Whippet sold by Dare Foods, according to this Globe and Mail article, the shop's owner "admits his homemade product was meant as an homage to the Whippet".
Nothing wrong with that. However, the Master chocolate maker went further. He named his creation Le Ouipette Deluxe. Dare Food's lawyers gave him 15 days to lose the name. The cookie has now been renamed the Pouffette Deluxe.
As if it's a David and Goliath story, The Globe and Mail article goes on to claim that "it would be hard to depict Choco-Là, as a looming threat. It makes his cookies out of a storefront with eight employees in a regional city nearly two hours east of Montreal, producing each cookie by hand and churning out about 100 a day." A reader commented: "Guess I've bought my last Dare product. Sorry Girl Guides! This kind of BS is exactly what gives the big corporations and their thugs masquerading as lawyers the prototypical bad image they have - AND deserve."
Whippet is a trademark. It's that simple. Anyone naming a product for sale only has to click on Industry Canada's Canadian Intellectual Property Office website and do a simple search.
This post on Montreal's radio station CJAD's blog about the story claims that "the store owners say they're lucky their Christmas rush kept them from following through on a plan to order 10,000 boxes resembling the Whippet packaging." That's a good thing as this too would have been a trademark infringement.
It's puzzling that this story would find its way in Canada's national newspaper. Perhaps someone is hoping for the kind of attention the Oasis fiasco received last year. (See this blog post for more on that one.)
It appears that the folks at Choco-Là have also changed the name of a chocolate they'd been calling a Turtle, for fear of attracting Nestle's attention. Good call.