Cookie shop thriving after UA dispute
By Colby Leopard
Following an official apology from the University for sending a cease-and-desist order, Mary’s Cakes and Pastries has received verbal permission to continue using Alabama related images on their baked goods.
Mary Cesar, the owner of Mary’s Cakes and Pastries in downtown Northport, said the shop is ready to continue making their hand-made sweets in time for their busiest season of the year.
“With football upon us, I was worried that our customers would stop coming if we couldn’t put the Script ‘A’ or ‘Roll Tide!’ on our cookies,” Cesar said. “Luckily we received our license just in time for the first football weekend of the year.”
The University of Alabama uses a third-party licensing agency called Collegiate Licensing Company for all trademark licenses. Last Tuesday the CLC sent Mary’s Cakes and Pastries an order to cease and desist the production of any baked goods bearing images trademarked by the University. The letter was signed by the Associate General Counsel of the CLC, James D. Aronowitz.
“On behalf of The University of Alabama, CLC demands that you and every person or company affiliated with you immediately discontinue the sale, offering for sale and/or distribution of any unauthorized products containing the University’s marks,” Aronowitz said.
In addition to ordering Mary’s Cakes and Pastries to stop production of their Alabama-themed sweets, Aronowitz’s letter demanded that the shop supply the CLC with a list of all items the shop has made or sold bearing UA trademarks. According to Aronowitz’s letter, this information would also include the total number of goods both sold and in inventory, the price of each item and profits earned from the sale of items bearing UA images.
“This information will be used to determine the amount of damages and legal costs due for your unauthorized use of the marks,” Aronowitz said.
According to Cesar, a representative from the athletic department called her on Thursday morning to apologize for the cease-and-desist letter. The administrator said the letter was not in line with the University’s protocol for licensing issues for local venues. Mary was told her case would be handled swiftly and with the spirit of local business in mind.
“The administrator I spoke with from the athletic department was most apologetic for the letter sent to me by CLC,” Cesar said. “I feel now that the University both understands and supports local businesses such as my own.”
After receiving the letter, Mary’s researched applying for a trademark license from CLC.
“Our store could not afford to operate if we had to pay royalties for placing University-trademarked images,” Cesar said.
Cesar added that Mary’s takes trademark infringement very seriously and avoids using images such as Disney characters on their caked-goods.
“What we failed to realize is that putting the words “Roll Tide” on football-shaped cookies is also a trademark violation,” Cesar said. “We’ve been putting UA-related images on our goods for over four years, so the letter came as a surprise to me.”
The University contacted Mary again on Monday to give her verbal permission to continue decorating her baked-goods with University trademarked images. Cesar said that she should be receiving an official license from CLC this week.
“We’ll be icing cookies with the script A all day today,” Mary said Tuesday morning. “I even had to let my first customer of the day know that they were buying the first ‘official’ Alabama themed cake this morning.”
Over the past week customers and well-wishers have called in from across the country to offer their support to Mary’s Cakes and Pastries.
“The outpouring of support from the community, and even beyond, has been incredible,” Cesar said. “Even though it has been quite a week for us, the end result is only an incredible amount of positive.”
Alyssa Dinberg, a recent graduate from the University, said she was surprised that Mary’s received the letter after having made her Alabama cookies for so long.
“Mary’s has not only been making her Alabama cookies for forever, she has been catering events for the University for as long as I can remember,” Dinberg said. “This past year she donated a platter of baked goods for the New College retreat, and she’s catered several events for the Honors College before.”
Dinberg said she is glad that Mary’s will be allowed to continue using Alabama trademarks on her treats.
“Mary is an incredible asset to our community and is someone our community should be proud of and support,” Dinberg said. “She is the epitome of the Alabama spirit and I know she will continue to be just that.”