Dunkin’ Donuts files suit against ex-franchisee over trademark infringement

Company says owner of two East Hampstead shops continues to do use brand after losing rights to it

Dunkin Donuts SignDunkin’ Donuts Franchising LLC is suing Minda’s Donuts, a former franchisee in East Hampstead, for continuing to sell coffee and donuts in two stores under the Dunkin’ brand.

“The brand is famous,” says the complaint filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Concord. “The Dunkin’ marks are among the best and most widely known in the United States today and are assets of inestimable value.”

Aminda Daviduk, the franchise owner, and defendant, opened both stores under the Dunkin’ brand in 2017.  But Dunkin’ ended the franchise for the first store on Sandown Road on September 27, 2022, the same day the landlord terminated its lease based on repeated breaches of that leases limits on operating hours, said the complaint.

It terminated the other franchise of the store in the Colby Corner Shopping Center five days before Christmas, after it allegedly failed two food safety review inspections.

The complaint alleges, during an Oct. 12 “routine inspection,” the store received a score of 48 out of 100 points. Mold was growing on the ice machine, equipment and equipment and utensils were dirty, employees were not washing their hands, and cooking temperatures were not properly monitored, alleged the complaint. After a follow-up inspection on Dec. ­8, Minda’s got a 58, because of many repeat violations, including failing to keep equipment sanitized or maintain sanitizer at the proper concentration levels, the complaint alleges.

NH Business Review reach out to both stores via phone.  Employees there identified the store as “Dunkin’.”  Their website also still has Dunkin’ trademarks, and a Google search identified stores at that address as Dunkin’ – information what was updated about a month ago after both franchises allegedly ended. But Daviduk did not respond to inquiries by deadline.

Dunkin’ has spent $5 billion on advertising and promoting its brand in the between 1971 and 2019, $470 million in 2019, according to the suit. It operates more than 9000 restaurants in the United States.  According to a state-by-state breakdown by the website Winepair, 223 are in New Hampshire, with over 1,000 in Massachusetts.

”Key to that success is the consistent delivery by Dunkin’ restaurants of high-quality goods and services,” says the complaint. “A primary reason that customers choose a familiar brand, such as a franchised restaurant, is that they associate it with consistent quality and product offerings.”

Dunkin’ alleges violations of trademark infringement, false designation of origin, unfair competition and breach of contract. In addition to treble damages, disgorgement, attorney’s fees and interest, it is also seeking an injunction from preventing the company from continuing to operate the restaurants or any businesses offering similar services within five miles for two years.

An attorney for Minda’s Donuts has yet to make an appearance.

Categories: Law, News, Restaurants, Retail & Tourism