Health Department Isn't Laughing at Dumb Starbucks' Parody Coffee
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Dumb Starbucks can now call itself Dead Starbucks.
Yesterday, just as it was revealed that Comedy Central star Nathan Fielder was behind the pop-up shop, Los Angeles County health inspectors ordered the shop to close down.
Fielder stars in Nathan For You, a reality show known for its business-centric pranks. It seems likely that Dumb Starbucks will be featured in the television show’s second season, though the legality of his use of Starbucks' name and logo remains disputed.
Dumb Starbucks claimed that the shop was 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 “company” stated in their frequently asked questions.
However, in the end it wasn’t Starbucks but the Health Department that apparently shut down Dumb Starbucks. The shop, which claimed to be an “art gallery,” with coffee as works of parody art, had been operating without a permit.
Even if the Health Department hadn’t gotten involved, it would be unlikely that Dumb Starbucks would have remained open much longer. Starbucks is known for aggressively pursuing knockoffs, and Dumb Starbucks’s purpose as reality show fodder would probably not matter to the coffee giant. Last year, a federal appeals court ruled that 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.