Starbucks “Addresses” DoubleShot “Concerns”

More DoubleShot. Steven Roemerman was so upset by Starbucks suing his favorite local coffee shop that he decided to write them and complain. This is the form letter they sent him back:

    Thank you for contacting Starbucks Coffee Company.

    On March 20, 2006, Starbucks Coffee Company sent a Cease and Desist letter to Doubleshot Coffee Company in Tulsa, Okla. requesting that they stop using a variation of the Starbucks DoubleShot name and trademark.

    While it is always Starbucks preference and desire to resolve disputes of this nature informally, whenever possible, we will seek the assistance of the courts to protect our trademark when we are unable to resolve the matter through alternate means.

    Under trademark law, companies are required to take action against infringing uses of their trademarks. Even where it may seem playful, this type of misappropriation of a company’s name is both derivative and dilutive of their trademark rights.

    Thank you again for taking the time to write to us.

Exactly the callous response you’d expect and Starbucks doesn’t actually attempt to argue whether or not a trademark on an industry term used in every coffee shop in the land flies in the face of all common sense. Why would they? It’s a handy weapon to put competitors out of business; the issue isn’t whether they are right, it’s not even who has the law on their side. It’s who can afford to fight the battle.

Starbucks Correspondence [Roemerman On Record]
Previous DoubleShot Coffee Vs. Starbucks Stories

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  1. mark duffy says:

    Starbucks sucks grande balls. All you whiny bitches out there who defend them because they give part-time workers benefits and let non-customers use their bathrooms are pathetic. Those “positives” PALE in comparison to their underhanded methods of putting small local coffee shops out of business. Enjoy your 4 buck cups of lava java loser sheep.

  2. misskaz says:

    Starbucks wouldn’t be able to put so many small coffee shops out of business if the customers of the small coffee shops didn’t abandon them in favor of Starbucks. (Lame-o lawsuits notwithstanding.) What I don’t understand are who are these people that used to patronize Ye Olde Coffee Shoppe that, the minute they see that green circle logo, lose all sense of loyalty and immediately jump ship? To me, Starbucks is doing what Starbucks does – finding profitable locations to continue to expand their business. If the patrons of the local shop didn’t leave in favor of Starbucks, they wouldn’t be so successful at it. Some of the blame lies on the shoulders of the mighty consumers.

    As a former Starbucks barista (that’s right, I’m the devil) I must say there are some “neighborhoods” – read: horrifyingly bland suburbs, including the one where I worked – where Starbucks is doing nothing other than giving some folks some coffee, because there are no local shops to demolish and destroy with reckless abandon.

  3. Das Ubergeek says:

    While the letter is callous, the problem lies with the trademark laws, which state that a trademark that is not vigorously defended can be lost to the public domain.

    So if Starbucks wants to keep their trademark (and they do, otherwise why would they have spent the money to trademark it?) they have to sue. Notice I said they have to SUE, not that they have to WIN. Trademarks have been lost because of wide judicial discretion as to what “vigorously defended” means (i.e., that the trademark-holder permitted one known ‘violator’ to exist was grounds for dissolution of the trademark).

    Does it suck for the small coffee-shop owner who has to pony up for a defence? Yes, it certainly does. Does is suck for Starbucks, since they have to spend the time and money on the suit? Yes, though not as much as for the small coffee-shop owner.

    If the small coffee-shop owner is smart, he’ll get someone to research Lexis-Nexis, get the relevant precedents, and countersue Starbucks for his legal fees.

  4. Morgan says:

    The problem really being that the term “Doubleshot” already was public domain. It was a commonly used term well before Starbucks came into existance. In that they went through the effort to attempt to remove a common term from the public domain, I hardly see the fact that they need to sue to keep it from returning to the public domain as a defense of their actions.

  5. non-meat-stick says:

    So who allowed them to copyright “doubleshot”? don’t those people do research?

    I’m sorry starbucks, that would be like baskin robbins copyrighting “scoop”…

  6. Ben Popken says:

    John writes:

    “Absolutely, it’s a crappy story about a crappy company trying to push out the little guy. Except…

    I’m no lawyer, and this’ll take some further hunting to confirm, but I believe that if a company has a trademark and they don’t make an effort to defend that trademark against potential violations, then their trademark disappears. It’s not whether they win or lose the case — it’s simply the fact that they filed it. If they didn’t file it, then they wouldn’t be allowed to file again when the case was far more egregious and actually threatened their brand, like “BarStucks DoubleShot Xpresso Drink! Now with more X!” sitting right next to their coffee-flavored beverage in the grocery store. I’ll ask my lawyer-pals, but I have a feeling that this might be what’s going on here.

    This isn’t to say that it sucks and isn’t absolutely ridiculous, but it’s not really about Starbucks wanting to kill some cafe in a small town — it’s about making the effort because otherwise, their trademark will be voided”

  7. Ben Popken says:

    Michael writes:

    “I hate it when corporations go after little guys for frivolous trademark issues. I remember well many years ago how “Sony” sued Sony’s restaurant in Baltimore … even though that was the owner’s name!

    But I think things are much less clear in the Doubleshot case. You call it a “common industry term,” but try the following Google search:

    doubleshot -starbucks -tulsa

    If “doubleshot,” written as one word, were indeed a common industry term, you would get lots of hits to espresso shops, coffee-culture sites, etc. But you don’t — there’s a novel by that name, a band … but very few coffee references, and a lot of the pages that Google turns up actually write it as two words. (Here’s a good example.)

    In this case, I think Starbucks has decent grounds (heh) for claiming that they coined the single-word version of doubleshot in the coffee context.”

  8. Skunky66613 says:

    Can someone let me know the names and addy’s of all on the Starbucks Executive team? They don’t seem to post that on their website.

    Thanks VERY much!