Starbucks’ latest court battle involves an unlikely subject: bongs.
The coffee giant has prevailed in a copyright and trademark infringement lawsuit involving a line of bongs (err, “water pipes”) mimicking Starbucks Frappuccino cups. Bearing the name “Dabuccino,” the glass vessels feature a mouthpiece that resembles the company’s signature green straws and a logo that looks just like the Starbucks siren — except in this case, she’s wearing a headdress made of pot leaves.
In the suit, Starbucks argued that the defendants “willfully intended to create an association with the Starbucks Marks and to capitalize upon the success and popularity of the Starbucks Marks to sell [their] products,” resulting in trademark dilution that “has caused and will continue to cause irreparable injury and damage to Starbucks Corp.’s business, reputation, and goodwill.” The coffee giant demanded the defendants turn over their profits from the bongs, as well as pay damages and attorneys’ fees.
The complaint was initially filed back in June against the Oregon artist who designed the bongs, James Landgraf, and the e-commerce site he partnered with to sell and market the bongs, Hitman Glass; when Landgraf failed to respond or show up in court, the judge ruled in Starbucks’ favor by default, ordering the artist to pay up $410,580 in damages. (The proceedings against Hitman will continue, as Law360 notes. Interestingly, the Hitman Glass website is currently offline.)
Pieces from the “Dabuccino” line sold for anywhere from $200 to an insane $8,000, and now they’re seemingly bound to become a collector’s item for a certain type of well-to-do weed aficionado. But since the bongs were released, a number of cheaper, mass-produced versions resembling Starbucks cups have also hit the market — meaning it could be tough for Starbucks to completely eliminate copycats from the market.
A Starbucks spokesperson said in a statement, “We are pleased with the court’s decision. Starbucks has made significant investments to develop our brand and intellectual property over the past 45 years. We have an obligation to protect our intellectual property from infringement in order to retain our exclusive rights to it.”
Hitman Glass did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Amusingly, Starbucks isn’t the only restaurant chain that’s inspired bong makers: Fast-food devotees can also get water pipes designed to look like beverage cups from In-N-Out and McDonald’s. Will Starbucks’ lawsuit inspire copycat suits from other chains? Stay tuned.
• Starbucks Wins Judgment Over ‘Dabuccino’ Bongs [Law360]
• More Starbucks Coverage [E]
• More Lawsuits Coverage [E]