Trademark dispute brews: Starbucks warns ‘Dumb Starbucks’ on name, logo

Windsor Genova – Fourth Estate Cooperative Contributor

Los Angeles, CA, United States (4E) – Newly-opened Los Angeles coffeeshop Dumb Starbucks drew curious customers with its inaugural free coffee over the weekend followed by a potential legal action from coffeehouse chain giant Starbucks on Monday.

Starbucks spokesman Zack Hutson said the unaffiliated Dumb Starbucks at 1802 Hillhurst Avenue in the Los Feliz neighborhood cannot use the company’s name, a protected trademark.

Hutson said the company is evaluating its next step.

Dumb Starbucks looks nearly identical to any of the more than 20,000 Starbucks coffee shop in the U.S. and abroad. There are tumblers and jazz CDs, drinks are served in cups, and the menu includes Iced Coffee, Frappuccino, etc. but the word “dumb” before them.

The store explains its use of the Starbucks name, logo and label in a factsheet posted inside the establishment. The sheet says it is for marketing purposes but the addition of the word ‘dumb’ in every label and circular logo to make fun of Starbucks is fair use.

Starbucks is protective of its trademark demonstrating it last year against a Missouri pub that offered Frappicino beer. Starbucks sent the store, Exit 6 of Cottleville, a cease and desist letter on Dec. 9, 2013 saying the beer label is likely to cause confusion and mistake with its Frappuccino coffee.

The owner replied in an undated letter with an apology plus an inserted $6 check representing profits from the sale of its Frappicino beer.

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