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Crumbl stands by decision to sue cookie competitors

By Ashtyn Asay - | Jul 22, 2022

Courtesy Crumbl Cookies

Crumbl's signature chocolate chip cookies sit next to a stack of the company's iconic pink box in this undated photo.

Three Utah cookie companies are entangled in lawsuits quickly shaping up to be anything but sweet.

Crumbl Cookies was co-founded by Jason McGowan and Sawyer Hemsley in Logan in 2017 and has since spawned 533 locations nationwide, even being named the fastest-growing gourmet cookie company of 2021 by the Technomic Top 500 Chain Restaurant Report.

While initially known for its signature oversized milk chocolate chip cookies, Crumbl now draws in cookie lovers with a weekly rotating menu of specialty cookie flavors.

The company filed lawsuits in U.S. District Court in Utah on May 10 against competitors Crave Cookies and Dirty Dough, seeking an injunction and monetary compensation alleging that both companies copied multiple elements of Crumbl’s branding.

McGowan posted a statement from Crumbl regarding the lawsuits on his LinkedIn page Thursday, doubling down on the company’s choice to take legal action against its competitors.

“While we have remained silent as the process moves through appropriate legal channels, the defendants have taken to social media to spread misinformation and garner public sentiment,” reads McGowan’s statement. “The defendants both formed businesses copying Crumbl’s processes, trademarks, and trade dress in a confusingly similar way.”

According to the statement, both Crave Cookies and Dirty Dough have “unique ties” to Crumbl.

Crave Cookies, which offers customers a rotating weekly lineup of warm and chilled cookie flavors, has four locations in Utah. The lawsuit against Crave alleges that co-founder Trent English applied to be a Crumbl franchise owner and even toured a Crumbl store before his application was denied. It was then, allegedly, that he went on to form his own cookie company.

English denied these allegations, telling ABC4, “We’re pretty confused why a billion-dollar company is wanting to target two smaller start-ups out of Utah and Arizona.”

The statement posted by McGowan went on to allege that a former Crumbl employee misappropriated insider information, sharing it with a family member at one of the smaller startups.

“One of the defendant’s brothers, who we also believe was involved in the defendant’s business, was a former corporate employee of Crumbl who had access to our recipes, schematics, processes, and other proprietary information,” reads the statement. “We have recently been told by a whistleblower, with insider knowledge, that the defendant misappropriated this information.”

While the statement does not reveal the identity of the former Crumbl employee, the lawsuit states that in late 2019 a Crumbl insider left the company to found Dirty Dough.

The first Dirty Dough store opened in Tempe, Arizona, in 2020. The company specializes in filled cookies and also has a rotating menu of specialty flavors.

Dirty Dough founder Bennett Maxwell has not shied away from addressing Crumbl’s lawsuit on social media.

“A Billion dollar company suing 2 start-ups. Why? Because apparently if you put sprinkles of your cookies, Crumbl thinks they own that,” Maxwell posted on his LinkedIn page. “Watch out Grandma, you better throw away those sprinkles or you will be Crumbl’s next victim.”

A July 14 post on the Dirty Dough Instagram page states, “we’re not backing down,” and called upon fans of the cookie company to take to social media using #UtahCookieWars to voice their support for the brand.

Maxwell poked fun at Crumbl in a post shared to his LinkedIn page Sunday, which showcased mockups of Dirty Dough’s new billboards — which can already be seen in Utah County — reading “Cookies so good we’re being sued” and “Our cookies don’t crumble with competition.”

Despite his previous social media posts, Maxwell responded to Crumbl’s July 21 statement on his LinkedIn page the same day, stating that the company is taking the lawsuit very seriously.

“We continue to deny the allegations and intend to vigorously defend against and defeat Crumbl’s legal claims,” reads Maxwell’s statement. “Dirty dough has not infringed on Crumbl’s purported intellectual property. We are confident the legal process will show Crumbl’s claims have no merit.”

While the owners of Crave Cookies have taken a decidedly quieter approach to the controversy, English did post on his LinkedIn account Thursday, referencing the company’s TikTok page, which regularly posts cookie-related content.

“We’ve been tagged in a number of comments and posts over the last 14 days mentioning our seeming lack of response to all of the #utahcookiewars news here on LinkedIn. We aren’t staying silent…we just know where our customers are,” reads English’s post. “We are franchising and growing at a rapid rate, but at the end of the day our primary focus is creating the best possible content and products for our customers while spreading brand awareness on the platforms where they live!”

Utah County cookie connoisseurs are only a short drive away from the connected companies. Dirty Dough has a location in Vineyard with plans to open four others — in Pleasant Grove, Spanish Fork, Saratoga Springs and St. George — in the near future.

The closest Crave to Utah County is located in Sandy, though locations in Alpine, American Fork, Saratoga Springs, Orem and Spanish Fork are labeled “coming soon” on the company’s website.

With significantly more locations nationwide, it stands to reason residents have plenty more Crumbl locations to choose from. The company has nine stores in Utah County. They are available in Provo, Orem, Pleasant Grove, American Fork, Saratoga Springs, Lehi, Spanish Fork, Springville and Payson.

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