Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Starbucks v. Doubleshot Coffee Co.

I'm not sure if you all have heard about this. I know some of you don't like going into the store (problems with the owner). But that doesn't change the fact that they have the absolute best coffee in Tulsa, and maybe even the world. This whole situation (read on) makes me so angry. They won't stop until they put every single independent coffee house out of business.

This is a copy of the email that I recieved from Brian on Tuesday...

It's true. I received a letter last week informing me that I am infringing on a trademark that Starbucks has had since 2001, "Starbuck's Doubleshot." The lawyers advised me to cease using the DoubleShot Coffee Company name, to shut down my website (, and to destroy everything I have which bears the "DoubleShot" name. Come read the letter yourself-- it's framed and hanging on the wall, over the garbage can.

At first I frowned, then I smiled, then I laughed, then I experienced a little anger and fear, and then I went back to vengeance and irritable laughter. As you know, I don't take kindly to people telling me what to do. After briefly discussing the matter with my lawyer, and a gaggle of other lawyers who regularly patronize DoubleShot (my DoubleShot, not the can at the gas station), I don't think Starbucks has a leg to stand on. Doubleshot is a generic industry term for two shots of espresso. They have no exclusive rights to it. But they will try to scare me and lawyer me out of business if we give them the opportunity.

So today, as a legal clarification, I would like everyone to know that we are not Starbuck's Doubleshot. If we tricked you into coming in here, thinking you could get a can of Starbuck's DoubleShot here, please let me know. And if you thought that $2 Tuesday was a sale on Starbuck's Doubleshot, I vehemently apologize for the confusion and ask you to please not come in here anymore because stupid people annoy me.

On the other hand, if you are brilliant enough to seek out a pound of fresh-roasted DoubleShot coffee, you will be rewarded today. Come in anytime today for $2 Tuesday, and receive a $2 discount on every pound of oh-so-tasty-coffee you purchase.

We don't have any cans of Starbuck's Doubleshot here, but we do have the freshest coffee on the planet!

Please tell as many people as you can about this outrageous Starbucks chicanery. We figure that the more publicity and public indignation we stir up, the better chance we will have at standing up against this evil corporate empire.

There is also a podcast.
or on iTunes (search for "AA Cafe" in the music store).


At 3/29/2006 12:39 PM, Blogger ThomG said...

I think attorneys for corps like Starbucks send out these sort of threatening letters every day. I think Brian is getting good legal advice - they most likely have no case.

At 3/29/2006 2:28 PM, Blogger bgelder said...

I hope so, because first Doubleshot, then the rest of the independent coffee sellers.

At 3/30/2006 10:25 AM, Blogger dj whut said...

I don't see how you think it will affect independent coffee sellers. Companies trademark names for this specific reason. If you had invested millions in developing and marketing a product, you wouldn't want people using the name for other (similar) purposes. I think they have a legitimate claim to the name DoubleShot if it was previously trademarked.

I agree this guy makes good coffee but I have strong opinions about the way this guy runs a company. I don't think it's excusable to be a sociopathic jackoff just because you roast your own beans.

In the end, he'll reap what he's sowed. He'll continue to have the small cultish following that treat him as a God but he won't make it much further. (If Starbuck's doesn't shut him down.)

Sounds like his brainwashing is working, too. "Best coffee in the world" is quite a stretch.

At 4/04/2006 5:11 PM, Blogger bgelder said...

Fine let me clarify, doubleshot is the best coffee I have ever had in this world. Happy?

At 4/04/2006 7:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You do realize that if it wasn't for starbucks, your small independent coffee shop wouldn't even have a market.

At 4/05/2006 10:05 AM, Anonymous Christopher said...

I am proud of you. I live in NYC and dream of opening my own coffee house. I frequent starbucks multiple times a day, however I do not like what they have been doing lately.

I understand that Howard Schultz visited Italy and fell in love with the coffee house culture. However, it seems that he also feel in love with the intimidating tactics used by La Cosa Nostra. Starbucks business etiquette is starting to smell and taste rancid like an espresso made with store bought freeze-dried coffee.


-Christopher "Future Starbucks Competitor"

At 4/05/2006 1:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

>> Christopher "Future Starbucks Competitor"

Not if you keep drinking at Starbucks "multiple times a day."

Instead, you're supporting them with the money you could one day use to open "Christopher's Coffee"

At 4/05/2006 2:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"You do realize that if it wasn't for starbucks, your small independent coffee shop wouldn't even have a market"

That just isn't true. Coffeehouses have been around forever, and the explosion would have happened anyway. That's like saying there would be no market for hamburgers without McDonald's.

"I understand that Howard Schultz visited Italy and fell in love with the coffee house culture."

That's just it. He fell in love with the CULTURE, not the coffee. They sell a lifestyle, not a drink. All of their marketing is based on that. That's why they spend more money marketing CDs and travelmugs than they do the coffee.

At 4/05/2006 3:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you do some digging into trademark and copyright laws, you'll discover that owners of trademarks and copyrights basically HAVE to actively puruse defense of their marks; if they do not, those marks fall into public domain. It's happened many times. A couple of the posters here seem to get that - and also the bit that Starbucks created the opportunity for the indy shops out there. We live in a market-based economy - don't like Starbucks, prefer your locally-owned shop? Then don't go to Starbucks, simple as that.

At 4/07/2006 5:51 PM, Anonymous aAron said...

Doubleshot coffee company makes absolutley the best coffee i've ever tasted and i've been in alot of coffee houses, including Starbucks, which i'm done with for good.

hang in there, brian! you run an honest, committed business. your passion for quality far exceeds anything Starbucks has.

they go the way of most big franchises- all about the "bucks" and not "star" coffee!

At 4/11/2006 9:03 AM, Blogger Wave Maker said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 4/11/2006 10:43 AM, Anonymous Deoxy said...

"Companies trademark names for this specific reason. If you had invested millions in developing and marketing a product, you wouldn't want people using the name for other (similar) purposes. I think they have a legitimate claim to the name DoubleShot if it was previously trademarked."

Except that they trademarked a genric term that is part of the industry. That would be like me coming along today and trademarking the term "CD", "disk", "tire", "wheel", or "desk".

Or, to give you a bit more extreme example, how about I come out with a product called "The", and I trademark it. Then I send threatening letters to EVERYONE WHO USES THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE for infringing my trademark on the word "the".

THAT is what is going on here. THAT is why what Starbuck's is doing is wrong.

At 4/11/2006 1:32 PM, Blogger saintknowitall said...

Actually a better example is the term "Starbucks Coffee". Does that mean no one else can use the term "coffee". Hardly. So when you trademark "Starbucks Doubleshot" you are trademarking the whole phrase, not just a piece of it.

Some junior attorney at Starbucks thought this up. They will lose big time if they go to court.

At 4/12/2006 12:38 AM, Blogger Jeff said...

I would never give up and fight it as long as it takes until I won. Then, when it was all over and done with and I went back to work at my coffee shop without changing the title, I would sue the shit out of them for hundreds of millions of dollars for all the stress related illnesses and injuries you recieved on account of getting bullied by a large corporation. If they lose in court, then there is obviously something wrong going on.

As a last kick in their oversized nuts, I would use the multiple millions I won from them and put up a DOUBLESHOT coffee shop next to every single Starbucks I could afford to and undercut the price to drive those asses out of business.

Pipe dream? Maybe so, but it sure would be a damn good story with a damn good best seller waiting to be written.

And if I lost, I would change my company name to something like "the former "DOUBLESHOT" that had to change it's name because starbucks is a bunch of corporate assholes". But then again, I ain't in your shoes.

Have a hoot and good luck with the suit.
Until some other time...

At 4/13/2006 12:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am in the process of opening my own coffee house. As far as coffee goes, I share the market with Starbucks. By way of atmosphere and my special litle niche', we share nothing. Many independents are actually strategically placing themselves near Starbucks (how could you not, they are everywhere), and you certainly don't ever hear about the Starbucks that closed due to the small guys (noo, that's a hush hush situation)lol. Starbucks will cook themselves someday, that is my theory. It's like this, would you rather go to AppleBee's or some quaint, charming place that serves excellent high quality gourmet food? Corporate shmorporate, plenty of people will always dig the little guys over the big guys, there is room for us. Keep your doubleshot, and tell them to go pound sand.


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