Many people get their coffee, or latte, or expresso from Starbucks every morning or around 2:00pm each day. But Starbucks does not only serve coffee, the company is also active in enforcing the benefits of a its federal trademark registration and protecting itself from potential trademark infringement.

Starbucks, the massive Seattle based coffee company worth about $16.447 billion in 2014, sent the owner of a small town brewery outside of St. Louis, Missouri, a cease and desist letter to prevent them from infringing a Starbucks trademark. The trademark in question, FRAPPUCCINO.

The owner of a Pub and Brewery, combined the flavors of two beers, and one customer posted to a beer website that it taste like a “Frappicino.” Starbucks took notice of this and sent the brewery owner a letter telling him that his “Frappicino” beer would cause confusion among consumers in regards to Starbucks’ FRAPPUCCINO trademark. Starbucks’ attorney argued that while the beer’ name sounds phonetically identically to the Starbucks mark, even though it was misspelled by one letter. Because of this, Starbucks requested the brewery owner to stop all use of “Frappicino,” notify the beer owner to remove the website post containing “Frappicino,” and to agree to not use any Starbucks trademarks in the future and to agree to not use any trademarks that would cause confusion or dilution with Starbucks’ trademarks. This is a very helpful example of multiple topics that can arise during the trademark selection process.

First, the benefits of federal trademark registration. With the federal registration of FRAPPUCCINO, Starbucks has several trademark benefits that arise solely through their registration. Starbucks has a nationwide priority to use FRAPPUCCINO as of the date of the initial application, the right to prevent a subsequent user from using a confusingly similar trademark. If a trademark dilution or infringement lawsuit were […]