Mary Cesar, the owner of Mary’s Cakes & Pastries in Northport, Alabama has routinely placed a script letter “A” on cakes she designed for University of Alabama-sponsored functions.
But Cesar recently received a formal cease and desist letter, demanding that she stop using "trademarks, name, logos, colors, slogans, mascots and other indicia associated with the University."
The letter was sent by Collegiate Licensing Company in Atlanta, which has a contract with UA to provide licensing services for the university's trademarked items.
"If UA sues us, it will put us out of business because we are a really small mom-and-pop-type of business," she told the Associated Press.
Cesar said her research indicated it would cost $750 to $3,000 to apply for a license to use the trademarks, a fee she said wasn't justified by her small volume of bakery items.
Cesar opened her bakery in Northport six years ago after moving to Alabama from California. Her main business is custom-decorated cakes. The bakery also makes pastries and cookies, including theme-shaped cookies that she varies throughout the year. She reportedly started selling cookies shaped like elephants, hats and footballs, particularly during the fall, beginning several years ago.
The hat cookies had a light gray icing and squiggles like a houndstooth pattern, invoking memories of Paul W. "Bear" Bryant, and she had another cookie resembling Nick Saban's signature straw hat. The elephant and football cookies often had a capital "A'' on them, making them popular with many local football fans.
UA has a reputation for aggressively protecting its brands. But earlier this year, a federal appeals court sided with Alabama artist Daniel Moore in a trademark dispute involving UA. Moore is known for original paintings with sports themes, including many paintings depicting major moments in UA football games.
UA sued Moore, claiming he infringed on the university's trademarks by showing trademarked words and images in his paintings.
A federal appeals court rejected UA's argument this year, ruling the paintings were an artistic expression protected by the First Amendment.