Starbucks stakes trademark claim to London baker's 'duffin'

A London bakery chain is concerned about the future of one of its most popular creations, the doughnut-come-muffin it's dubbed the Duffin Cake.

Bea Vo, owner of Bea's of Bloomsbury, was shocked to discover that US coffee giant Starbucks has launched a Duffin of its own. Not only that, but the supplier, Rich's Products, has trademarked the name.

Ms Vo is concerned that, despite the fact that she's been selling her Duffins for over two years, she could potentially now be banned from using the name.

Starbucks claims to have thoroughly researched the name before using it, and says it came up a blank. Now, it says in a statement: "We loved the idea and it seems like others did too - in fact since we launched it nationwide last week we've started to hear about a few other versions out there."

The company has promised not to take any action against Bea's preventing it from using the name. But, says a spokesman for Bea's: "Our take on this is that that's all very well, but if they were to have a change of management or a change of heart, they're perfectly within their rights to stop us."

He adds: "People have been saying we can sue, but at the end of the day, Bea's is a small independent business - we don't have teams of lawyers or the same resources as Starbucks. Why should we? At the end of the day, it's about making cake.

Hybrid bakery products have become ubiquitous over the last year or so. When the world's love affair with the cup cake started to wane, its place was taken by the cronut - a cross between a croissant and a doughnut.

Invented by New York pastry chef Dominique Ansel in May, it was soon selling so fast that a two-per-customer limit was introduced. Queues have often topped three hours, and some bright sparks are even reselling them online for $100 a pop.

More recently, others have attempted to emulate its success with, for example, the crookie - a cross between a croissant and a cookie - and the brone: an ice cream cone made from brownie batter.

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