Coffee and bongs: While you might not expect the two things to be related, they are. Or at least, they were in a recent copyright lawsuit that saw coffee giant Starbucks sue the maker of frappuccino-shaped bongs.
Eater reports that Starbucks ultimately prevailed in the odd lawsuit when a judge ruled in the coffee company’s favor after the defendants failed to respond to the suit or show up in court.
The lawsuit, which was originally filed in June, claimed that an Oregon artist and the companies he partnered with to sell the Dabuccino line “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.”
The pipes, which sold for between $200 and $8,000, featured a mouthpiece that resembled Starbucks’ signature green straws and a logo on the cup that looked similar to Starbuck’s signage.
These similarities, Starbucks claimed, resulted in trademark dilution that “caused and will continue to cause irreparable injury and damage to Starbucks Corp.’s business, reputation, and goodwill.”
With the suit, the company asked that the artist and other companies turn over profits made by the sale of the “water pipes,” pay damages and attorneys’ fees. Eater reports that the judge ordered the artist to pay up to $410,580 in damages.
A spokesperson for Starbucks tells Eater that the company is 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,” the rep said.
This, of course, isn’t Starbucks’ first time claiming a company has infringed on its trademarks: most famous is Starbucks’ years-long (and ultimately failed) battle against the New Hampshire coffee roaster who dared to parody the bigger company by selling a Charbucks brand roast.
In 2013, the company sent a cease-and-desist letter to a small Missouri brewpub that dared to sell something called Frappicino beer. The company also tussled with a parody shop, dubbed “Dumb Starbucks,” that opened for a short time in Los Angeles.
by Ashlee Kieler via Consumerist