The doggie watchers have only been open since March and they are already having to do deal with Starbucks’ lawyers, who are demanding that the company changes its name, logo and its website, StarbarksDog.com.
“[W]e have a legal obligation to protect our intellectual property… in order to retain our exclusive rights to it,” a Starbucks rep tells the Chicago Sun-Times, adding that the company would prefer to reach an “amicable” resolution.
However, we’re assuming that amicable would still require the doggie daycare to change all of its signage, branding and anything else that has the Starbarks name, as the owner says she has already offered to change to logo from green to yellow and replace the stars in the logo with paws. She claims to have already spent around $2,000 on legal fees.
“I love the name. Everyone loves it. It’s clever,” she tells the Sun-Times. “It’s not like we sell coffee or anything they do.”
Courts are unpredictable when it comes to cases like this, explains a Georgetown University law professor specializing in trademark law. She believes that it does work in the daycare’s favor that it offered to change the logo, as it would be tough to argue that the Starbucks brand is being diluted by a completely unrelated business with branding that is not similar.
“Often this is not a battle that the small businesses can afford to fight in court. They can only fight in the court of public opinion,” explains the professor.
People thinking of starting a small business with a name that is a pun or spoof of an existing, larger brand should take note that they will likely end up in a similar legal battle. They have to ask themselves in advance whether it’s worth spending the money to launch a company whose name will possibly need to be changed, or which could cost a pile of cash to defend.
Starbucks nibbles at heels of Starbarks doggie daycare [Suntimes.com via StarbucksGossip.com]