Exit 6 Pub and Brewery writes open letter, sends $6 check to Starbucks after C&D notice

Exit 6 Brewery logo(Cottleville, MO) – Exit Six Pub and Brewery made its displeasure with Starbucks clear in a Thursday Facebook post after the coffee giant sent the company a cease-and-desist letter for a beer named, “Frappicino.”

So quick little story. Last week I received a cease and desist letter from the attorneys at Starbucks. Apparently there was a beer on Untappd that someone named “Frappicino”. 3 people had checked into said beer. 3. Starbucks did like that. So I got a letter. They wanted me to remove the beer and promise never to use their names again. They also wanted my written response and guarantee. Here is their letter. And also my response.

The beer in question has since been removed from the Untappd website. Below are the documents that Exit Six made public on Thursday.

Starbucks 1

Starbucks 2

Exit 6 1

Exit 6 2

[New Check Image Below]

Exit 6 Brewery 3

Breweries:

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92 thoughts on “Exit 6 Pub and Brewery writes open letter, sends $6 check to Starbucks after C&D notice

  1. The cost of processing the check will likely be well over six dollars. Then again, the cost of NOT processing the check is six dollars more.

    But cashing the check is arguably accepting the offered settlement of six dollars and the no-harm-done thesis. I’m guessing Starbucks has paid legal counsel crap-tons of dollars for the advice “don’t cash that check”.

  2. you should put a beer on tap called “Starbuck” that is a tribute to Battlestar Galactica. “It’s hoppy and delicious. So say we all!”

  3. Starbuck is an ACTUAL last name and has been around the Nantucket MA area for about 3.5 centuries now – they’re an old whaling family, and that’s where the writer Herman Melville got the name for the first mate of the Pequod in”Moby Dick”.

    The guys who opened up Starbucks used the name for their coffee shop, but they can’t trademark a last name that’s been around LONG before they existed and will be around LONG after any coffee shop bearing their name will have closed.

    Since I’m descended directly from the Starbuck family (on the Coffin line), if I decide to name anything “Starbuck” that I make, I’m willing and happy to have the corporation come after me – we’ll see who has the rights to the name after all – a descendant of the ACTUAL family, or a corporation who got the name from a book?

    http://youtu.be/KqWqCuHR0Og

  4. Hey T. I’m a descendant of Tristram Coffin as well. Small world. I vote for FU-chino. I doubt a pair of trousers will take offense to that.

  5. I think Starbucks gave you a marketing tool. How about FU Bucks since FU and bucks are public domain words. Sell In 6 packs with the letters on the carton or as an insert. But the f word, also public domain, will do well for you as a brand.

  6. This is the most hilarious thing I’ve ever read. I had to wipe my eyes several times to finish reading! I’m still wiping my eyes. Truth is always funnier than fiction! I vote FU-cino, even if it wasn’t in the letter!

  7. I vote for the name “FU-cino” or “FrapUcino,” with the F and U in bold contrasting colors.

  8. @David – Your sample case of McDonalds vs Starbucks would be valid – they would both be selling a frozen coffee drink. The beer, however, is a completely different product, sold through an unrelated channel in a different context. The legal test is based on what a reasonable person would infer. No reasonable person would likely confuse a frozen coffee drink with a beer, and certainly wouldn’t confuse it with the actual Starbucks product. So, the case against Exit 6 would be extremely weak, to the point of being frivolously weak. A similar case against McDonalds would likely be quite strong.

  9. I’d like to agree with that guy, but there’s a good reason for trademarks. He’ll obviously never compete with Starbucks, but he’s using their trademark for his gain. Frappuccino beer sounds gross anyway.

  10. Mr. Porter, I beg to differ, if I understand your premise correctly, I could start building and selling bicycles and call them Camaro Z28’s, because a bicycle, is a completely different product from a muscle car, sold through an unrelated channel in a different context. And because the legal test, you say, is based on what a reasonable person would infer, your position is that no reasonable person would likely confuse a bicycle with a Chevrolet automobile? My response is this: It is possible that GM could have licensed the name for use on a bicycle that is made by a completely different company in order to promote the brand (Just as Starbucks could have licensed the name “Frappuccino” to Exit 6) and a “reasonable person” would believe the bicycle (Or the beer) was “Officially Licensed” and approved by GM (Or Starbucks). But let’s say I don’t believe in such silly things as having to pay license fees to multi-billion dollar companies such as GM! I would be receiving a C&D letter from GM so fast it would make your head spin!!! If Exit 6 had licensed the name “Frappuccino” from Starbucks they would legally be able to use the name, But, you say, because they are a Mom and Pop corner bar selling beer not coffee it is O.K. to Hijack… Appropriate…. Steal (Pick a word) a trademarked name! If you are correct, after all, I think I’ll start selling a new boutique line of industrial paint stripper and I think I’ll call it… Hmmm… WAIT FOR IT…. I Know!!!… STARBUCKS!!!!! (No reasonable person would confuse a gut burning poison with actual Starbucks coffee…… Right?) (Oops I think I just blew my whole argument!) (Just kidding, Starbucks, Please don’t sue me, I like your coffee!)

  11. @T:
    I don’t mean to be a troll, but you most likely would lose. Last names don’t acquire trademark protection by virtue of being a last name alone because there is no inherent distinctiveness. Even if you proved secondary meaning Starbucks would probably still win because of their length of use and famousness of the Starbucks mark. Further, if they really did get the name out of a book (I didn’t look up their history, so let’s say they did) then that hurts your argument, as their mark would then be classified as an arbitrary/fanciful mark. Those marks are accorded the strongest trademark protection.

  12. @Mareshah Elise Sambrano:
    You might want to brush up on your IP knowledge. Specifically, see the ‘sight, sound, and meaning’ test for similarity of marks (AMF, Inc. v. Sleekcraft Boats). Words that, when spoken, have the same connotation or sound the same can, indeed, infringe.

  13. I go to Starbucks often. I will compensate by not going to Starbucks for the month of January.

  14. I hope Starbucks gets the money back they paid their attorney. Her allegation of harm rested on the variance of Frappicino and Frappuccino of “only one letter” when in fact there is clearly a two letter difference. I hope Mr. Britton sells many gallons of brew from the publicity of this clear example of why every lawyer joke ever uttered is based in truth. On my next sojurn to Illinois, I will take a slight detour at Exit 6 and enxure that Mr. Britton gets his $6.00 back.

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  16. Starbucks is named like that because its coffee and food is priced as is they come from the stars…Star Bucks you have to spend to get good from them…

  17. I read about a simillar beer… called Fucking Hell… no joke !
    The Town called Fucking is in austria, and Hell is the german word for bright,.. otherwise called lager in your areas.

    So, if you visit Austria… get a Fucking Hell ;-)

  18. You wouldn’t imagine, but that story made it around the world.
    So greetings from Germany.

    I was reading that letter, and holy cow, I was bursting out laughing. You should really win a price for it. Please keep the beer as “F-word”. That one, the story and most importantly the letter really made my day. And with that amount of fame, the F-word got nowadays, it would be a shame to stop.

    If I’m ever around the area, I’ll get me a pint of F-word. Hope it is as good as the story behind it.
    Cheers
    Seb

  19. Frapiccini is an old italian family name. You might wish them Coffeedudes to have fun sueing each and everyone of them.. might be a lenghty operation, though…

  20. “Starbucks is only a milk shop” was the response from a manager of one of the italian coffee brands.
    So the customer could incidently expect coffee for the offert products e.g. milk with coffee flavour.
    How many shops has Starbucks in Italy?

  21. The story is for laughin´, would´nt be there the request from the lawyer…
    But look at it from the other side, take advantage out of it, just name your beer the “Lawsuit-Lager”, another variant could be ” Miss Kramer´s-Stout”, perhaps “Courtcase-Pilsener” or “Legal-Hassle-Lager” could be of use…
    “F-Word”….i don´t know, could be confused with “Fucking” (which is the name of a village in the province of upper Austria). Not, that this choice may lead to another letter from some attorneys to Exit-6 !

  22. Yeah, as said before, F-Word is a great name for the beer :)
    or go even further name it like this:
    “F-Word” *bucks – drink beer
    ;)

  23. This is why I never go to Starbucks! They try to appropriate the aura and equity of your “local coffee shop”, make themselves seem to be a community supporter and generally good guys. However their actual behavior often shows that’s all a front, this letter being a good example. Their reneging on their contract with Kraft Foods for coffee distribution another on a much larger scale again relied on lawyers. At least they paid the price in that case. They are just another large corporation who started small and forgot who they were along the way. A smart company would have seen this was not a real threat and either ignored it OR even smarter ordered a couple of kegs. Instead, they made themselves look like fools to millions of their potential customers. Social media changes the world that large companies play in but most have not learned that yet.

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  27. mysterious @R you have missed the tongue-in-cheek linguistics joke entirely…I don’t need to “brush up” on trademark law. Or whatever you are referring to as “IP” which I hope means “IPA” which I am, unfortunately, too well-versed in…both the the linguistic and drinkable kind. *sigh* You lose the internet.

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