Starbucks upset over Tulsa coffee shop name
Friday, April 7th 2006, 5:09 AM CDT
A Tulsa coffee shop could be in big trouble with a competitor. Attorneys with Starbucks are ready to brew up a lawsuit against the Doubleshot Coffee Company in Tulsa.
6 in the Morning reporter Omar Villafranca looked into the possible lawsuit.
The owner of Doubleshot Coffee Company is steamed. Coffee giant Starbucks is threatening to sue Brian Franklin and his company over the name "Doubleshot". â€œWhen I first saw that it was from the lawyers of Starbucks, I was surprised. Then I started laughing, like, what? This is stupid."
Starbucks Doubleshot comes in a can. Then there is a doubleshot of espresso. Starbucks says customers might not be able to tell the difference between their product and two shots of espresso. Starbuck' lawyers say customers associate the word "doubleshot" with their product, the trademarked "Starbucks Doubleshot" beverage and that Brian's company "threatens to diminish the strong, positive associations between Starbucks and the genuine Starbucks Doubleshot trademark."
Starbucks also wants Brian to take down his company website and destroy cups, shirts and anything with the word â€œdoubleshotâ€ on it. Brian and his attorney say they don't have to. "You can't trademark generic terms like "espresso" and you can't trademark descriptive terms like doubleshot, which describes espresso, two shots of espresso.â€ Omar Villafranca: â€œsomebody comes in and says I want a doubleshot? Brian Franklin: â€œwe don't walk over to the refrigerator. We go to the espresso machine. Even on the can, it says espresso and crÃ¨me, it says doubleshot, espresso and cream, so what else could they be describing besides espresso? So it's a descriptive term and commonly used in the industry, so you can't trademark things like that."
Brian has a sense of humor about the case. He even jokes with his customers about it. But he's serious about fighting for his business. â€œIn some ways I feel like they're going to have to drag me out of here in handcuffs in order to stop doing business. But we'll see. My lawyer thinks that's a bad idea."
Starbucks got back with Omar. Officials say they are required to take action against someone infringing against their trademark. They said â€œEven where it may seem playful, this type of misappropriation of a company's name is both derivative and dilutive of their trademark rights.â€
No lawsuit has been filed.