Real-Life Copycat Lesson #3: Milk Bar customer confusion

30 April, 2019

In 2008, renowned pastry chef Christina Tosi founded Milk Bar bakery and opened her first shop in New York City. The famous, celebrity-endorsed bakery now has 16 locations and another on the way, selling desserts like Cereal Milk Soft Serve, Compost Cookies and Crack Pie. Tosi has won two James Beard awards and authored a number of successful cookbooks.

In March 2019, a restaurant by the name of JoJo’s Milk Bar opened in River North, Chicago and is now facing a trademark infringement and unfair competition lawsuit brought by Tosi. The lawsuit claims that JoJo’s Milk Bar tried to capitalize on consumer’s confusion to get in on the success of Tosi’s Milk Bar, which already has a large fan-base in Chicago. JoJo’s mark de-emphasizes the word “JoJo” and uses a similar font for “milkBAR” that Tosi uses for her business – with a cursive font for “milk” and a capitalization of “BAR.” Both the “MILK BAR” phrase and “milkbar” logo font style are federally registered trademarks.

JoJo’s Milk Bar is now looking at the possibility of having to impound or destroy all its products (including dishware, boxes, labels, promotional materials) that are found to infringe Milk Bar’s trademarks. They may also be required to pay Milk Bar for any and all profits made while using the trademarked named and font and award Milk Bar all damages and attorney’s fees involved in the suit.