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Will 'Dumb Starbucks' Be Smart Enough to Get Away With Selling Parody Coffee?

February 10, 2014
URL: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/231387

A store called Dumb Starbucks opened in Los Angeles this weekend. Adopting the popular coffee chain’s logo, menu and style, the coffee shop is nearly identical to the average Starbucks—except for the “dumb” precursor.  

 


 

Despite offering everything from Dumb Iced Coffee to Dumb Caramel Macchiatos, the shop claims to be an elaborate parody on Starbucks. Dumb Starbucks’s frequently asked questions sheet claims that the shop is legal under parody law. “By adding the word ‘dumb,’ we are technically ‘making fun’ of Starbucks, which allows us to use their trademarks under a law known as ‘fair use,’” the document reads.

 


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The shop has been flooded by curious customers, as Starbucks fans around the world have taken to Twitter to try and get to the bottom of the story. The shop reportedly offered free drinks on Saturday and Sunday, as part of Dumb Starbucks’s grand opening.

The people behind Dumb Starbucks claim they “love Starbucks and look up to them as role models.”

 

 

In the past, Starbucks has aggressively pursued knockoffs. Last year, a federal appeals court ruled a small, family-owned New Hampshire roaster could continue to sell a line of Charbucks coffee, despite the similarity in names to Starbucks. However, Sam Buck of Astoria, Ore., was less fortunate, and was forced to close her Sam Bucks coffee shop in 2005. 

Whether Starbucks will take action against Dumb Starbucks is yet to be seen, though the chain has confirmed that they are not involved. However, as the store seems to have not received money as of yet for any of the coffee sold, it’s possible the store isn’t what it seems, instead serving as a marketing stunt for some unknown entity.

Related: Did You Say 'Charbucks'? 7 Big Chains That Battled the Name Game