Seattle based coffee house and household name Starbucks has won two trade mark infringement cases against “Strabuono Coffee” – a Maltese based coffee shop with outlets in both Naxxar and St Paul’s Bay. Starbucks brought the action in the civil court of Malta.
Strabuono have been ordered by the court to cease trading under the name “Strabuono”, destroy any signs or merchandise bearing the logo and pay Starbucks €2,000.00. Starbucks contend Strabuono have infringed on their name, logo and some of their products.
Strabuono argued not only was their name in a different language, but has a different meaning, that being “super good” in English. Strabuono also argue their logo was different, featuring a lion not a mermaid. They further contended that their flagship product “Strapuccino” was a play on the words cappuccino and Strabuono, not a corruption of Starbucks’ “Frappucino” drink.
When handing down judgement, the Judge also referred to EU judgements concerning Starbucks, filed against other companies. Particular reference was made to the EU General Court ruling that a low degree of similarity of two trade marks is sufficient to rule in favour of the claimant. The Court concluded Strabuono was in breach of EU law on trade mark protection, ruling the marks were visually and conceptually similar, noting particular similarities in colour schemes.
This isn’t the first coffee shop to feel the wrath of Starbucks, with the company bringing action against Sambucks Coffee of Oregon and Star Box Coffee in North London in the past. This can be seen as a warning to smaller brands seeking to play on the names of well-known brands.
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