Crumbl CEO doubles down, as Utah cookie war continues

Co-founder Jason McGowan repeats charges that two smaller cookie makers infringed on Crumbl’s trademarks.

The Utah cookie war, which has drawn attention on social media all summer, has amped up again.

The latest salvo came Thursday, in a statement posted online by Jason McGowan, co-founder and CEO of Crumbl Cookies, which sued two smaller cookie companies in May — accusing the companies of infringing on Crumbl’s trademarks and design features of its packaging.

“The defendants both formed businesses copying Crumbl’s processes, trademarks, and trade dress in a confusingly similar way. Both defendants have unique ties to Crumbl despite saying otherwise,” reads the statement McGowan posted on LinkedIn.

A spokesperson for Crumbl declined to comment further Thursday, referring back to McGowan’s statement.

The lawsuits, filed in U.S. District Court in Utah on May 10, separately name Dirty Dough and Crave Cookies, two smaller companies. The suits allege that both companies’ products are “confusingly similar to Crumbl’s established and successful trade dress and brand identity.” The lawsuits also allege that the smaller companies’ packing and logos are similar to Crumbl’s trademark bubble-gum pink boxes and chef doodle logo.

Crumbl launched in 2017 in Logan, and now boasts 533 locations in 46 states, according to its website — which lists 28 locations in Utah alone.

Dirty Dough was started in 2019, and opened its first store in Tempe, Arizona, in 2020; it now has locations in Utah County: Pleasant Grove, Spanish Fork and Vineyard. Crave Cookies began in May 2019 with a shop in Midvale; it has since added stores in Sandy and West Valley City.

McGowan’s statement said the brother of the founder of one of the companies “was a former corporate employee of Crumbl who had access to our recipes, schematics, processes and other proprietary information.” The statement includes a claim that a whisteblower has told Crumbl officials that the rival company “misappropriated this information.”

The statement doesn’t specify which company, though the lawsuit against Dirty Dough claims that company was started by a former Crumbl employee.

The statement follows a social-media campaign spearheaded by Dirty Dough, which launched the hashtag #UtahCookieWars on its Instagram account on July 14, with the declaration “We’re not backing down!”

Bennett Maxwell, Dirty Dough’s founder, mocked Crumbl in a post on LinkedIn: “A billion dollar company suing 2 startups. Why? Because apparently if you put sprinkles of your cookies, Crumbl thinks they own that. Watch out Grandma, you better throw away those sprinkles or you will be Crumbl’s next victim.”

Dirty Dough followed by announcing it would post billboards with such defiant slogans as “Cookies so good we’re being sued!,” “Our cookies don’t crumble with competition” and “We don’t file lawsuits — we just have better cookies!”

Crave has kept comparatively quiet amidst all the cookie controversy. In the federal lawsuit against Crave, Crumbl argues that Crave’s co-founder, Trent English, applied to be a Crumbl franchise owner, and toured a Crumbl store before his application was denied.

Dirty Dough issued a statement Friday in response to Crumbl. It begins: “Amidst the light-heartedness of social media, Dirty Dough is taking the current Utah lawsuits seriously. We continue to deny the allegations andintend to vigorously defend against and defeat Crumbl’s legal claims.”

The statement goes on to say that Dirty Dough is “lowering the barriers for entrepreneurs to start a business. Crumbl has stated this lawsuit is part of its commitment to protecting entrepreneurs and it is ironically hurting them in the process.”