A Florida-based company filed 2 patent applications, a trademark, and aggressively protected trade secrets concerning its unique and novel confectionary dessert cake. The dessert is cupcake bites rolled with frosting and “mix-ins,” cut to be served like a sushi roll (www.cupcakesushi.com). After several years in business, the two business partners parted ways. The departing partner, the pastry chef, went to work for a start-up competitor. She attempted to license Cupcake Sushi’s intellectual property to the competitor @sushisweetdesserts for use it in its start-up company. The allegations in the legal complaint tell a tale of deception and deceit by the former business partner, a legal drama ripe for a movie on cable TV.
The takeaway is that an investment in intellectual property protection can give a business power to stop others, including co-owners and ex-employees, from misappropriating business assets for their own gain. It is also important to provide for ownership of the business key assets in the event there is a departure of an owner or investor. This can be successfully accomplished with legal agreements such as assignments, non-competes, confidentiality agreements, operating agreements and shareholder agreements, but there are many options and strategies for addressing these critical issues. The important point is to have written agreements in place to prevent an expensive legal dispute and loss of valuable business assets to competitors, risking the business’ future viability.
The old adage “failure to prepare is preparing to fail” was never truer than in this situation.
The U.S. patent applications are US20150079249 Method for Preparing Decorative Cakes and D789025 Rolled and Decorated Cupcake.