A small US coffee producer has again defeated international coffee chain Starbucks in a David vs. Goliath trademark infringement battle over the name ‘Charbucks’.
Charbucks, introduced in 1997 by ‘Black Bear Micro Roastery’ in New Hampshire is the small coffee chain’s darkest roast coffee. In its decision, the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals noted that although “one of the reasons that Black Bear used the term ‘Charbucks’ was the perception that Starbucks roasted its beans unusually darkly” there was almost no similarity and evidence of actual association between the two brands.
Starbucks, who originally sued Black Bear in 2001, had hoped that its appeal against the original decision would be successful. However, the Court chose to agree with the original ruling by the District Court, stating that Starbucks did not prove its case.
It is understood that Seattle-based Starbuck respects, but disagrees with the Court’s decision. A Starbucks spokesperson stated:
“We only filed the suit after a prolonged but unsuccessful attempt to enlist Black Bear’s cooperation and to resolve this matter without litigation…Starbucks is a responsible trademark owner and was only asking for an injunction against the use of ‘Charbucks’.”
While Starbucks does have the option of appealing to the US Supreme Court, it is not known whether they will proceed with any further legal action.