Did Chrissy Teigen copy Auckland cake shop’s trade dress for baking kits?
05 December 2022
The owner of an Auckland cake shop has accused supermodel and influencer Chrissy Teigen of being a copycat.
Teigen recently came out with a line of baking kits for banana bread, pancake and cookies under her food enterprise Cravings. Started in 2016, Cravings’s product line includes cookware, bakeware, seasonings, spices and now cake mixes.
This move caused friction with Jordan Rondel, founder of Auckland-based The Caker which also has an outlet in Los Angeles. The Caker likewise owns a line of mixes for various cake products. Rondel dubs her cake mixes as cake kits since they come with non-stick baking pan liners and decorations.
Teigen and Rondel collaborated in September 2022 to develop a cake mix for spiced carrot and salted caramel cake. The collaboration was a success and the product was a hit.
Then on October 21, the American model launched her line of baking kits whose packaging design bears similarities to that of Rondel’s products. Foremost of these similarities are the pictures showing a hand and a cake on white background.
Noting these similarities, Rondel took to Instagram to express her thoughts.
According to Jenni Rutter, a partner at Dentons Kensington Swan in Auckland, there are indeed similarities in the design style. But, she adds this is not unusual in the food industry.
“It is often difficult to say where the line is between legal and illegal behaviour when it comes to trade dress,” explained Rutter. “On the whole, it is difficult to prove that packaging is deceptively similar. A lot turns on what the average consumer would think and whether he or she would be misled or deceived. Research shows that as consumers, we depend heavily on brand names to guide us when choosing products. The brand names in this case are quite different – ‘The Caker’ and ‘Cravings,’ so that helps people distinguish the products.”
“But we also have what is called ‘imperfect recollection,’” she added, “and we pay less attention when we’re choosing lower priced everyday products like bread or milk. Mind you, I doubt these lovely cake mixes fall into that category.”
However, there could be stronger argument that the Cravings product has overstepped the line if the baking kits were different from all other baking kits in the market, according to Rutter.
“It’s quite common to see a stoush about intellectual property when a competitor product joins a new category, using certain design cues to say to customers ‘me too,’” she said. “There is a fine line between honest competition and causing deception.”
A Cravings representative has denied Rondel’s accusation.
- Espie Angelica A. de Leon