Monday, February 10, 2014

Dumb Starbucks people.

You've probably seen a story today about the Dumb Starbucks store which has opened up in Los Angeles and is currently giving away free dumb coffee products.  It's probably only designed to be there for a day or two and to bring publicity to a movie, a website or a particularly well-funded cause.

On the off chance that they have plans to be a real business, they say they're counting on the parody provisions of fair use law to protect them from Starbucks' presumably well-caffeinated legal team.  There are limits to parody, however, and I seriously doubt you could clone an entire business simply by sticking the word "dumb" in front of copyrighted and trademarked elements. 

But Starbucks isn't helping themselves.  According to that article, SBUX is "looking into" the store.  The company's representative, Megan Adams, adds, "It's obviously not a Starbucks."

Oops.  One of the elements of a successful trademark infringement lawsuit is if the allegedly offending mark is "likely to cause confusion."  I hope Ms. Adams' remarks don't come back to hurt her. 

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