Kozinski blasts Google, orders takedown of anti-Muslim video

February 11, 2014Article
The Hollywood Reporter

At first, it wasn't known who was responsible for "Dumb Starbucks," which attracted long lines when it opened to serve up for free dumb-but-real beverages, or whether it would survive a legal challenge.

Starbucks didn't need much caffeine to object. The coffee giant told reporters, "They cannot use our name, which is a protected trademark."

"Dumb Starbucks" had posted a FAQ, which took the position that it was protected as a parody similar to allowing "Weird Al" Yankovic to use Michael Jackson's "Beat It."

Unfortunately, the chosen example didn't do much to quell the legal concern. Not only does Yankovic get permission to do his parodies (whether or not he needs to), but he also uses copyrighted material and not trademarks. If the real question pertains to whether "Dumb Starbucks" is misleading consumers and confusing the source of the new shop, many trademark lawyers quickly jumped to the conclusion that the new enterprise wouldn't fly.

"You can’t just take a famous logo and trade dress, call it dumb and use it to sell the very same products in competition with the company you’re making fun of," said Greenberg Glusker attorney Aaron Moss. "I question whether it’s even a legitimate parody in the first place. The people behind 'Dumb Starbucks' are not making fun of 'Starbucks' so much as they’re using its marks as a vehicle to sell their own commercial products."

To view full article, click here