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Locking horns over a trademark


In December of last year, The End, a trendy Brooklyn café located in New York City’s Williamsburg neighborhood, created yet another beverage in their long line of healthy drinks. They saw potential in a drink made with a litany of natural ingredients (dates, ginger root, cashews, dried maca root, vanilla bean, and blue-green algae) cloaked in a colorful pink and blue appearance.

The following month, Montauk Juice Factory, their parent company, applied to trademark the “Unicorn Latte” in January.

While the application was working its way through the legal process, along came Starbucks. The coffee icon introduced a decidedly coffee-free drink containing milk and artificial sweetener. Similarly named the “Unicorn Frappuccino,” the brightly colored, look seemed familiar, particularly to The End’s owners and hipster patrons.

A battle is brewing. The End Brooklyn has filed a lawsuit in federal court accusing Starbucks of trademark infringement.

Montauk Juice Factory, The End’s parent company claims that they created their new product to increase their brand’s exposure with a social media sensation. They also took careful steps to develop and protect what they saw as a valuable trademark. Starbucks, the “Goliath” to their “David” created a product of similar appearance and marketed in the areas where the Unicorn Latte gained fame.

Starbucks believes that the lawsuit seeking unspecified compensation and a public apology is without merit. The Seattle-based chain claims that their beverage named for a one-horned mythical beast was inspired by unicorn themes trending on social media. They also note that the beverage was a limited-time option that is no longer available.

Posted on Business Litigation

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