13 October 2017Trademarks

Dunkin’ Donuts takes action against former Florida licensee

Donut company and coffee house Dunkin’ Donuts has taken action against a former Florida-based licensee that has continued operating three stores despite its licence being revoked.

The complaint (pdf) was filed at the US District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Jacksonville Division, on Wednesday, October 11.

The defendant, named J&L Services, entered into a licensing agreement in June 2014 for three Dunkin’ Donuts shops in Jacksonville.

In the complaint, Dunkin’ Donuts alleged J&L then breached the licence by failing to sell required products, failing to maintain cleanliness and standards, and failing to complete required training.

On August 3, Dunkin’ Donuts sent a letter to the defendant, informing J&L Services that it was in breach of the agreement. After a “failure to cure the defaults”, it sent a notice of termination on September 19.

“Notwithstanding defendants’ non-performance under the franchise agreement, defendants have continued to operate the shops using Dunkin’ Donuts marks and systems without any right or licence to do so,” the complaint read.

A search of Google shows three Dunkin’ Donuts stores in Jacksonville, though it is not clear if they are those named in the complaint.

After Dunkin’ Donuts requested a preliminary injunction, US District Judge Brian Davis filed an order yesterday, stating that Dunkin’ Donuts must file a proposed order by October 25.

The company must provide “facts upon which the court can make a reasoned determination as to the amount of security which must be posted, in the event a preliminary injunction were to be posted”.

Dunkin’ Donuts is also seeking damages and attorneys’ fees.

This is not the first IP franchising dispute to happen this year.

In September, ice cream truck franchisor Mister Softee reached a settlement with former licensee Carl Gallucci.

The case was voluntarily dismissed after an injunction was handed down in August ordering Gallucci to immediately stop using ‘Mister Softee’ trademarks and provide a report to Mister Softee to prove he had done so.

Gallucci had entered into a licensing agreement to use the ‘Mister Softee’ trademarks, related logos and the Mister Softee musical jingle in 2012, and continued using them after stopping payment.

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More on this story

18 July 2017   Mister Softee has sued a former licensee, accusing him of infringing trademark rights by operating an ice cream stand.
13 November 2017   The US District Court for the Western District of Louisiana has ordered that a case between Dunkin’ Donuts and a franchisee be dismissed after a settlement was reached.