Utah’s ‘cookie wars’ being fought in court, and in online posts

Cookie companies Crumbl and Dirty Dough are duking out their lawsuit in the public eye on a professional networking platform.

(Crumbl Cookies) The Logan, Utah-based Crumbl bakery chain, which has more than 500 locations nationwide, has filed lawsuits against two small cookie companies with sites in Utah, accusing them of infringing on Crumbl's trademarks.

The Utah “cookie wars” rage on, through one CEO’s comments and another company’s response, both on online platforms.

The dispute — launched in May when Logan-based Crumbl Cookies filed separate lawsuits in the Utah U.S. District Court, claiming trademark infringement against two smaller Utah-based competitors, Dirty Dough and Crave Cookies — flared up again this week, when Crumbl co-founder and CEO Jason McGowan posted a fresh statement on the networking site LinkedIn.

In McGowan’s message, posted Monday, he accused Dirty Dough of stealing “trade secrets from Crumbl’s internal database” — something McGowan and Crumbl learned, he said, through an ex-employee who turned more than 643.7 megabytes of information.

According to McGowan, Dirty Dough had obtained 66 of Crumbl’s recipes, as well as building schematics, processes, store-level statistics, a cookies calendar, training videos and other proprietary information belonging to Crumbl.

The information, McGowan’s LinkedIn statement continues, has been confirmed through voicemails. He accused Dirty Dough of planning “to leverage these materials to develop their copycat concept.”

McGowan finished by saying Dirty Dough “wants the public to believe this lawsuit is about stifling competition” when it’s about, according to McGowan, “conducting business in an unethical manner.”

In a response, posted Tuesday on Dirty Dough’s Instagram account, the company “categorically denies stealing any documents from Crumbl. Dirty Dough’s recipes, building schematics and processes are not similar and are clearly different to the public eye.”

Dirty Dough, in its post, also chided Crumbl for “doing exactly what it criticized Dirty Dough of doing — using social media to shed light on the Utah Cookie Wars.”

In July, in a previous post on LinkedIn, McGowan said “we won’t discuss legal matters via social media” — before giving a detailed explanation of its lawsuits against Dirty Dough and Crave Cookies.

It was on Instagram, and on billboards bearing the hashtag #UtahCookieWars, that Dirty Dough declared on July 14 that “we’re not backing down!” in the face of Crumbl’s lawsuit.

In Tuesday’s post, Dirty Dough said the lawsuit is “trending in a positive trajectory” and they will continue “to stay positive and lighthearted, especially on social media.”

In the lawsuit, Crumbl alleged that both Dirty Dough’s and Crave’s 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 565 locations in 47 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 three 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, West Valley City, Draper, Riverdale and American Fork — as well as a franchise in Odessa, Florida.