New York — This past Monday, Starbucks Corporation filed a suit in New York against a rival coffee chain, Obsidian Group Inc., for alleged infringement of its ‘Frappuccino’ trademark.
According to Starbucks, it recently learned that Obsidian Group had been selling blended frozen beverages at its Coffee Culture Cafés under the name ‘Freddoccino’, which in Starbucks opinion is diluting the distinctive quality of its’ famous Frappuccino® mark and is likely to confuse consumers into believing that two products are affiliated or that ‘Freddoccino’ is endorsed or approved by Starbucks.
Excerpts from the Complaint:
“Since 1991, Starbucks and its predecessor-in-interest have used the Frappuccino® mark in connection with coffee and other beverages…, Starbucks owns numerous registrations issued by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for the mark Frappuccino®…”
“In the fiscal year that ended September 27, 2015, U.S. Starbucks® stores had more than $1.5 billion in sales of Frappuccino® handcrafted blended beverages.”
Starbucks has recently learned that the U.S. Coffee Culture locations have been offering a line of frozen coffee beverages under the name Freddoccino. Obsidian’s Freddoccino beverages, like Starbucks’ Frappuccino® beverages, come in a variety of flavors and are available with whipped cream and flavored syrup toppings.”
The Freddoccino mark is similar to Starbucks’ famous Frappuccino® mark in appearance, sound, and connotation: both begin with FR–, contain four syllables, end with –CCINO, and evoke a European-inspired cold coffee beverage. In addition to the confusingly similar Freddoccino name, Obsidian further calls to mind Starbucks’ Frappuccino® beverages through the similar appearance of its Freddoccino beverages and the cups in which they are served…”
“To redress the harm being done to Starbucks and the public, Starbucks brings claims for federal trademark dilution under the Trademark Dilution Revision Act of 2006, 15 U.S.C. § 1125(c); infringement of federally registered trademarks under Section 32(l) of the United States Trademark (Lanham) Act of 1946, as amended (the “Lanham Act”), 15 U.S.C. § 1114(l); trademark infringement, unfair competition, and false advertising under Section 43(a) of the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1125(a); and related claims under New York statutory and common law.”
It would be very interesting to see how this case plays out.