Brewpub Shows Starbucks “The F Word” After Legal Demand To Stop Selling “Frappicino” Beer

An excerpt from the brewpub's response to Starbucks' cease-and-desist request (via Facebook)

An excerpt from the brewpub’s response to Starbucks’ cease-and-desist request (via Facebook)

Still stinging from yet another legal defeat against a small New Hampshire coffee company over the “Charbucks” brand, the Starbucks legal team appears to be going after lower-hanging fruit, sending a cease-and-desist letter to a small Missouri brewpub that dared to sell something called Frappicino beer.

The owner of Exit 6 Pub and Brewery in Cottleville, MO, posted the legal letter on his company’s Facebook page last week.

“As you probably know, Starbucks Coffee Co. is the owner of a number of world-famous trademarks, including the well-known FRAPPUCINO trademark,” reads the letter, which then takes issue with Exit 6’s Frappicino, which the letter notes “only differs from Starbucks Coffee Co.’s FRAPPUCINO mark by one letter, and is phonetically identical.”

Starbucks feels that the use of the similar sounding names “is likely to cause confusion, mistake, or deception among consumers” and requests that Exit 6 stop using the term “Frappicino” and have the beer de-listed from the Untappd website on which Starbucks located the beverage.

We have no idea if Exit 6 makes good beer or food, but the reply to the cease-and-desist order was worth a laugh.

In a tongue-in-cheek attempt to avoid further confusion, the response from the owner opts to refer to “Frappuccino” as “The F Word,” and his tone matches the haughty legalese that is always packed into c&d notices.

“As you probably don’t know, Exit 6 is the proud owner of no trademarks,” reads the response, “including our own name much less than the name ‘F Word’ and nothing about Exit 6 is incontestable.”

Whereas the original Starbucks letter establishes the company’s bona fides by needlessly stating that Starbucks had sold millions of cups of coffee in the U.S. and abroad, the brewpub’s response notes that “Exit 6 has proudly sold at least 38 drinks in Cottleville, MO.”

The response also points out that, while there was that one-letter difference between the Starbucks trademark and the Exit 6 beer, the brewpub owners has actually planned on copying the name.

“Luck for us, we’re poor spelers,” reads the response.

However, in spite of the plan to use the Frappucino name, the owners say they never had any intention of confusing consumers.

“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,” explains the letter. “I guess 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 brewpub has also pledged to stop selling its “Starbuck-McDonalds-Coca Cola-Marlboro Honey Lager.”

In order to atone for its sins, Exit 6 chose to send Starbucks a check for $6, thus covering all of the profits it received from the three Frappicino beers customers mentioned buying on Untappd. The owners hope it can go toward Starbucks’ legal fees, as it certainly cost the coffee colossus more than that just to have its lawyer send the form letter.

“We just want to help a business like Starbucks,” concludes the response. “Us small businesses need to stick together.”

Local brewpub’s sarcastic response to Starbucks letter [KSDK.com via Eater.com]

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  1. AndyTehNerd says:

    Exit 6 is about 45 minutes away from St Louis, where I live. The owner is a terrific guy, and the beer is delicious. I recommend the vanilla cream ale. (No food, but you can bring your own in.)

  2. Xenotaku says:

    They were obviously being tongue-in-cheek with their response, but if I see an alcoholic beverage named after a Starbucks product, I’m going to assume it’s a coffee-flavored alcoholic drink that uses Starbucks coffee. So the infringement is justified, IMO.