Thursday, Jan. 27, 2011 | 3:30 p.m.
Texas Cupcakery shop owner Ricky Perritt is asking a court to issue a gag order against his niece in Las Vegas, saying her comments are undermining his efforts to protect The Cupcakery trade name.
Perritt and the niece, Las Vegas Cupcakery shop owner Pamela Jenkins, are now embroiled in their second lawsuit in two years over business disputes related to the high-end The Cupcakery business.
Those disputes resulted in Perritt and Jenkins splitting the business, with Jenkins keeping three stores in the Las Vegas area and Perritt taking stores in Texas and development rights outside of Nevada.
Perritt's latest lawsuit is over efforts by Jenkins to alter their joint website, thecupcakery.com, so it promotes only her stores. She wants Perritt to establish his own website.
Perritt said that would harm his business and violate an arrangement in their separation agreement in which they share intellectual property such as trademarks and the website.
After the filing of the latest lawsuit, Jenkins issued a press release saying "The Cupcakery" is not an original name and should be free to use by anyone -- infuriating her uncle who has been trying to obtain trademarks to that name and has spent tens of thousands of dollars protecting the trade name in litigation.
Jenkins' statement caused Perritt to expand his lawsuit this week, charging that in making those comments Jenkins violated her contractual obligations, damaged and disparaged Perritt and his Texas Cupcakery company and damaged the trademark, trade name and intellectual property of The Cupcakery.
"Perritt has invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in opening new stores and developing the trademark and other intellectual property," Perritt's attorney charged in an amended motion for a restraining order against Jenkins. "Jenkins ... has threatened to harm the trademark and has now done so publicly by falsely stating that the mark is not legally protectable and that she intends to 'share the glory' by letting anyone who wishes to use the mark appropriate it for his own use and benefit without paying for the privilege."
Jenkins has three Cupcakery stores in Southern Nevada, on south Eastern Avenue in Henderson, on west Lake Mead Boulevard and in the Monte Carlo hotel-casino on the Las Vegas Strip.
Perritt complained in his latest court filing that with her latest comments, Jenkins is jeopardizing a licensing fee MGM Resorts International's Monte Carlo is obligated to pay under an agreement for use of The Cupcakery trademarks and products.
"It pays for this privilege and Mr. Perritt receives half the licensing fee, as does Ms. Jenkins," Perritt's court filing said. "Her comments are calculated to encourage that licensee to refuse to pay the fee for what the owner claims is a trademark not protectable by law. It greatly hampers Mr. Perritt's efforts to promote the trademark and to negotiate joint ventures, license agreements or franchises, all of which he is actively doing."
Perritt, in his new filing this week, asked a federal court in Texas for a temporary restraining order forbidding Jenkins from "speaking to the media about this case, on or off the record, or issuing any further press releases during the pendency of the case."
Perritt also wants to restrain Jenkins from altering the website to the detriment of Perritt and from doing anything that would harm The Cupcakery trademarks.
It's unclear when the Texas court will rule on Perritt's motion.
A spokeswoman for Jenkins said she was unable to comment on Thursday.
E-mails filed in the case show it has grown intensely personal, with Jenkins complaining about her uncle, using a derogatory term to describe him and saying "I have a huge deal on the table with a major TV network, so it's imperative that I'm not associated with him and his businesses."
"I'm tired of him using my mother and grandmother to get to me. I'm also tired of complaints about his stores, since I'm not responsible," Jenkins wrote in a Jan. 16 e-mail to Perritt's attorney.
"And really ... lawsuits are asinine at this point. I won't change anything on the website until we figure this out, but I'm not going to lay down for him and his dreams of a cheesy cupcake empire," she wrote.