December 9, 2005

SamBucks Coffee

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:24 pm by thelawthoughts

Marty Schwimmer of the Trademark Blog (that’s Trade Mark on this side of the pond) reports on this case, which reminded me of McDowell’s in Coming to America.

Basically, Samantha Lundberg, nee Buck, wanted to call her cafe Sambucks. Starbucks filed for trade mark dilution. She lost.

When cases like this come up, I wonder why people can’t be a bit more creative. To me, it wouldn’t matter if this woman’s name was Star Buck. There is a very well known trade mark registered over a competing product and, under our law anyway, that is passing off your own product as that of the company with the well known brand. This formulation depends upon a finding of fact that the marks are deceptively similar.

There is always the argument that sometimes a brand is SO well known that someone trading with a similar brand is not deceiving consumers. They know they want McDonalds, not McDowell’s. This, however, doesn’t convince me. Companies and people who have been creative and created a brand deserve some compensation, despite the nice feeling that we should encourage innovation also.

I am incredibly skeptical about the increasing reach of both copyright and patent law. However, I don’t think rewarding a company like Starbucks for its branding strategy goes too far beyond what the law should provide.

Why can’t she call her cafe something a bit more thoughtful?

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1 Comment »

  1. Don’t for get the fool formerly known as Insane Ron formerly known as Crazy Ron now known as Silly Investor in Corby Enterprises. I think it is exceedingly important that we protect people’s branding of their products. At a surface level it is to avoid customer confusion at a deeper level branding has become part of the product itself. The brand of a product has become part of the production process. Branding is no longer just about making sure people buy your stuff, it’s actually adding to the utility of the product.

    As for SamBucks… Yeah it smeaks of no talent hackery. Perhaps she should rename it “I can’t believe it’s not a clever name…”

    Just my five cents worth (rounded because we don’t have copper coins no more).


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