Starbucks’ fleet of heavily caffeinated lawyers have honed in on a new target: a tiny, one-man coffee kiosk in North London. Star Box Coffee has been forced to change its name after a letter from the global coffee giant accused it of infringing on Starbucks’ trademark rights, the Camden New Journal reports.
It seems highly unlikely that anyone would actually ever think Star Box was related to Starbucks, considering the kiosk’s logo, typeface, and color scheme are completely different — no mermaids in sight. Nonetheless, the owner of the kiosk, a 52-year-old Iranian refugee named Nasser Kamali, complied with the coffee giant’s request by removing “Star” from his signage and menu, telling the New Journal he knew he’d be unable to triumph over the massive corporation in court.
“Trademark law is there to protect brand identity. In this instance it was too close to our brand and could lead to such confusion,” Starbucks said in a statement.
Kamali says Starbucks offered him £300 (about $370, or the equivalent of approximately 83 grande Frappuccinos) as a “goodwill payment,” but he’s refused to take the cash on principle.
Interestingly, a Google search for Star Box Coffee in London brings up only results for Starbucks, so perhaps the kiosk’s original business name wasn’t so good for SEO.
It’s not the first time Starbucks has sicced its legal team on a similarly named coffee shop: In 2014, it ordered a headline-making LA coffee shop called Dumb Starbucks to stop using its name. Dumb Starbucks turned out to be a stunt propagated by Comedy Central show Nathan For You, and likely would have been protected under parody law, but it was soon shut down by the health department for not having the proper licensure.
Will Starbucks take issue with a new cannabis-themed New Jersey restaurant called Weedbukx? Stay tuned.
• Starbucks vs Star Box [Camden New Journal]
• Real Starbucks: Dumb Starbucks ‘Cannot Use Our Name’ [E]
• More Starbucks Coverage [E]