Consumer Confusion Over Three Beers Sold?
So I pull up my morning Facebook feed, and I stumble across an NPR story regarding a small pub's response to Starbucks over the use of the word Frappicino (as compared to Frappucino). The response is great, and is actually a highly nuanced analysis of Trademark law done by a lay person without any experience in the subject.
Under the law, simply using a similar mark isn't enough. There has to be the possibility of consumer confusion. Here, we're dealing with a pub that has one beer that represented a total profit of three dollars versus, inside of a pub that obviously has no affiliation with the coffee giant. On the other side we have the delicious and fatty iced beverage sold worldwide. Now, that said, Starbucks is branching out into the world of spirits, and it is conceivable they would have a Frappucino beer at some point. But the letter by the owner is great:
"We never thought that our beer drinking customers would have thought that the alcoholic beverage coming out of the tap would have actually been coffee from one of the many, many, many stores located a few blocks away. I guess that with there being a Starbucks on every corner of every block in every city that some people may think they could get a Starbucks at a local bar. So that was our mistake."
The owner continues to note they will discontinue production of their McDonald's-Coca Cola-Marlboro Honey Lager. They enclosed a check for $6.00 (the profits from the beer), and end it on a high(ly sarcastic) note:
"Furthermore, in an effort to remain in good standing with Starbucks and Mr Bucks in general, please find enclosed a check for the full amount of profit gained from the sale of those 3 beers. Please apply the enclosed $6.00 towards the legal fees Ms. Owen Kramer received for her efforts in nabbing Exit 6 in our dastardly F Word naming practices. We realize Mr Bucks probably paid her more than Exit 6 made last year. We just want to help a business like Starbucks. Us small business owners need to stick together.
A link to the full NPR story is here.
Sometimes the law does hit on sense so common a lay person can come to it of his own accord. Great response, Exit 6, and I look forward to not trying the McDonald's-Coca Cola-Marlboro Honey Lager. However, I will try a bit of that Imperial Pumpkin Porter.