‘KILLER BROWNIES’ LAWSUIT: DLM’s owners sue to protect trademark, then settle 24 hours later

Dispute leads to national recipe website Food.com to agree to remove ‘Killer’ references from recipes, attorney says

A trademark-infringement lawsuit filed this week by the owners of Dorothy Lane Market on behalf of its local company that makes “Killer Brownies” persuaded the national food-recipe website Food.com’s owner to back down 24 hours later.

Killer Brownie Ltd. filed the suit against Discovery Communications LLC, based in Silver Springs, Maryland, in U.S. District Court on Tuesday, and by the end of the day Wednesday, Discovery Communications had agreed to Killer Brownie’s request to remove “Killer” references in brownie recipes on the Food.com website.

Messages left with Discovery Communications officials Wednesday had not been returned by Thursday. The company’s website shows that it is part of a corporate entity that also includes the Discovery Channel, Food Network and the Cooking Channel.

“The Killer Brownie is an important and significant mark, not just locally, but nationally, and we will always defend our client’s effort and investment in creating the mark,” attorney Michael Sandner of the Dayton law firm Pickrel Schaeffer & Ebeling told this news outlet via email late Wednesday afternoon. “Nonetheless, we were pleased to be able to resolve our dispute and have Discovery Communications agree to remove any reference to what we viewed as infringing recipes for ‘Killer Brownies.’”



Dorothy Lane market adopted the Killer Brownie trademark in 1985 “to identify its distinctive, high-quality brownies,” the lawsuit said. DLM registered the trademark in 1988, and it remains “in full force and effect,” the local grocery chain’s lawsuit said. In 2002, DLM established Killer Brownie Ltd. as a separate company.

But the Food.com website has published and displayed several brownie recipes with the word “Killer” in the title, including “Killer Brownies by Chapstick,” and “Killer Triple Chip Brownies by Perfect Pixie” and “Leslie’s Killer Brownies by Fairy Godmother.”

Credit: Lisa Powell

Credit: Lisa Powell

The use of such recipe titles “is likely to cause confusion or mistake or deception of purchasers as to the source or origin” of the website’s recipes, and is likely to lead customers to “believe that they are dealing with” Dayton’s own Killer Brownie company, the lawsuit said.

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