“Thus says the Lord of hosts:
‘Execute true justice,
Show mercy and compassion
Everyone to his brother.' "
Oh good grief, they didn't:
Last fall, Angel Seng, owner of Donut Taco Palace 1 off Highway 290 in southwest Austin, gained thousands of new fans after a popular sports website told the world about her signature Longhorn Donut.
One look at the yeast-and-glaze concoction that resembles the Hook ‘Em Horns hand gesture and you can understand why fans gobble it up.
But if you were thinking of celebrating the start of football season with a dozen, think again. The University of Texas has found some holes in Seng’s design.
Last month, Seng received a letter sent on behalf of the university citing a violation of trademark rights in relation to the Longhorn Donut and requesting that, when it comes to selling them, Seng yeast and desist.
“It’s not fair. It’s not right,” Seng said. “This I created by myself, I’m not copying from them. I’m supporting them.”
“It wasn’t very nice,” added her boyfriend, Fred Hart. “We felt kind of bullied.”
The letter, dated July 19 and sent from law firm Pirkey Barber, which represents the University of Texas in trademark and unfair competition matters, included a photo of Seng’s Longhorn Donut and an explanation that it violates UT’s trademarked “LONGHORN Marks,” which include the words “longhorn” and “longhorns” and the Hook ‘Em hand symbol.
“While the University appreciates Donut Taco Palace’s enthusiasm, UT is understandably concerned about your use of the LONGHORN Marks in this manner,” the letter said. “We suspect that you were not aware of the University’s trademark rights when you started selling ‘Longhorn Donuts.’ We trust that, now that these rights have been brought to your attention, you will take the appropriate steps to discontinue sales of the ‘Longhorn Donuts’ and refrain from any other uses of the University’s marks.”
Seng first attempted a hand-gesture doughnut years ago by customer request. She spent two years perfecting the technique and now sells a variety of hand-gesture doughnuts, including a peace sign, an “I love you” sign and a thumbs up (so far she’s received no complaints from the Aggies). She sells a limited number of various hand-gesture doughnuts in the shop Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
Seng, 36, was born in Cambodia and moved to the United States in 1997. She was running a salon in Boston in 2006 when a family member told her that doughnuts do well in Texas, so she hopped a flight to Austin and called every doughnut shop in town, hoping to strike a sweet deal. On her final call, to the former Donut Palace at 5446 W. Highway 290, she learned the owner was ready to sell. She purchased the shop, stuck the word “taco” into the name and the rest was history.
These days, she puts her brother and her dad to work behind the counter and oversees a tight, small staff, some of whom arrive at 1:30 a.m. so that everything is ready when the first customers arrive at 5 a.m. There are two other Donut Taco Palace locations in the Austin area, but they are no longer affiliated.They did; read the whole thing here.
“You’d think the university would let it go.”