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Dare Foods drops legal action against mom-and-pop pastry shop

Chocolatier Francois Paradis said his Ouipettes were intended as an ode to the Whippet.

Jessica Garneau

The Whippet war is over. And a Quebec pastry chef is declaring victory.

Canadian food giant Dare Foods Inc. has apologized to chocolatier François Paradis for legally threatening him over the use of the name "Ouipette" for the soft-centered cookie he concocted in his pastry shop in Sherbrooke.

Dare's lawyers had said "Ouipette" was a trademark infringement on its hot-selling cookie, the marshmallow-filled Whippet.

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It gave Mr. Paradis 15 days to ditch Ouipette or face legal action.

But sensing a public-relations disaster in an unfairly matched duel between a major-food company and a mom-and-pop pastry shop, Dare stood down.

Peter Luik, president of Dare, phoned Mr. Paradis personally on Valentine's Day to apologize for the company's handling of the dispute.

On Friday, a company employee came to hand deliver a letter from Mr. Luik to Mr. Paradis at his shop, Choco-là.

"Dare is a Canadian, family owned company competing primarily against much, much larger multinational firms," Mr. Luik wrote.

"We understand how challenging starting and growing a business can be."

Mr. Luik apologized and said the company should have phoned Mr. Paradis rather than threaten him with a lawyer's letter.

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And he enclosed a cheque for $3,150 to cover Mr. Paradis's costs for changing his stickers, website and other references to Ouipette (he changed the full name of his cookies from Ouipette Deluxe to Pouffette Deluxe).

"This is a weight off my shoulders," Mr. Paradis, who celebrated his 34th birthday on Valentine's Day, said from his shop on Friday.

"Dare acted very well. The apology is great and I accept it."

Mr. Paradis cooked up the Ouipette as a paean to the Whippet, a chocolate-covered cookie first dreamed up more than a century ago and so popular in Quebec that it was the object of a museum show in Montreal.

It was first created by a small bakery in east-end Montreal and branded the Whippet in 1927.

Mr. Paradis elaborated on the mass-market goodie with high-end ingredients such as pure coca butter.

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The cookie war with Dare hasn't been all bad for the master pastry chef, who runs the glass-fronted shop with his wife in downtown Sherbrooke, 150 kilometres east of Montreal.

After publicity over the case, customers began lining up at the shop for his domed-shaped cookies, and he received requests from as far away as Edmonton.

He increased production from 800 cookies a week to 1,200 a day.

He now plans to send Dare a box of his homemade cookies. "I'm very resourceful," Mr. Paradis said.

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About the Author

Ingrid Peritz has been a Montreal-based correspondent for The Globe and Mail since 1998. Her reporting on the plight of Canadians suffering from the damaging effects of the drug thalidomide helped victims obtain federal compensation and earned The Globe and Mail a National Newspaper Award, Canadian Journalism Foundation award, and the Michener Award for public service. More

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