Small Brewer Hilariously Tells Starbucks to “F-Off” Over use of “F-Word”


Sometimes you can’t do your job without looking like a corporate tool.  That’s what Anessa Owen Kramer, a trademark lawyer for Starbucks, recently discovered when she sent a cease and desist letter to Jeff Britton, owner of the Exit 6 Pub and Brewery in Cottleville, Missouri. 

The problem began when Britton decided to mix his little brewpub’s coffee chocolate stout with their vanilla creme, creating a delightful tipple that, according to one customer, tasted a lot like one of them fancy Frappucino’s over at Starbucks.  That customer checked in on UnTapped, dubbing the beer a “Frappicino,” one letter away from the famous 7,000 calorie coffee drink.  Two other beer-loving oversharers also checked in with the brew, amounting to a grand total of three reviews for the misspelled concoction on the badge-obsessed beer site.

It wasn’t long before Exit 6 received a cease and desist letter from Starbucks, stating that the beer “is likely to cause confusion, mistake or deception among consumers, who may mistakenly believe that Exit 6 or this beer product is affiliated with or licensed by Starbucks Coffee Co., when they are not.”  No mention was made to the mental acuity of these potentially confused consumers, but if they might think that a tiny brewpub in Missouri had a licensing deal with Starbucks, one can assume that they are a can or two short of a six pack.

While Starbucks is well within their rights to protect their copyright (they almost HAVE to, as their claim on it in the future can be weakened if they don’t actively protect the mark), Britton is also well within his rights to deliver a wise-assed response.  And so he did, addressing a letter to Ms. Owen Kramer, and cc’ing “Mr. Bucks.”

Here’s the letter in its entirety:

The check for $6.00 was a nice gesture for sure.
I know we need copyright laws to keep the things we create safe from those who try to profit unfairly from our hard work, but it’s still nice to see a sharp “little guy” call bullshit on the whole silly affair.
That said, I think scuttling the Starbuck-McDonalds-CocaCola-Marlboro Honey Lager is probably a good move, given today’s overly litigious corporate landscape.   Britton might wind up having to cut a check for a lot more than $6.00 – probably closer $25.00!!

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Craft beer nerd, frequent beer blogger and occasional home brewer.

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24 Comments on “Small Brewer Hilariously Tells Starbucks to “F-Off” Over use of “F-Word””

  1. January 2, 2014 at 5:45 pm #

    This place is 40 minutes away from me, in a part of STL that I tend to avoid like the plague. But I absolutely want to visit now just to toss the guy some of my money.

    • January 2, 2014 at 5:48 pm #

      Well he’s out six bucks, John. It’s the least you could do!!

  2. January 2, 2014 at 5:56 pm #

    Damn. I liked their Starbucks-McDonalds-Coca Cola-Marlboro Honey Lager too. It was pretty addictive.

    • January 2, 2014 at 6:06 pm #

      Just needed a pinch more salt, nope…sugar, nope…fat, nope…addictive chemicals, nope…WOW it really had it all!!

      • January 2, 2014 at 6:08 pm #

        All the major food groups, except…..bacon!

        • January 2, 2014 at 7:53 pm #

          I think there’s room to squeeze Oscar Meyer into that name…


  3. Greg
    January 2, 2014 at 6:02 pm #

    Or he could just name the beer ‘F Word’

    • January 2, 2014 at 6:07 pm #

      Whatever the case, he should sell it for six dollars and only accept personal checks!

    • January 3, 2014 at 1:28 pm #

      Exit 6 should tm the beer name “F-Word” if someone hasn’t beat them to it. Name made brilliant by the back story. ~m

      • January 3, 2014 at 1:36 pm #

        I don’t think they’re the tm-ing types, but it’s a good idea!


  4. Rick M
    January 2, 2014 at 6:26 pm #

    F’ing brilliant letter!

    • January 2, 2014 at 7:55 pm #

      Agreed! I was going to pull experts, but I thought the whole thing had merit, so I posted every word of it.

  5. parkercorey
    January 2, 2014 at 10:39 pm #

    That was pretty funny, although the most outrageous thing to me was that you can buy a pint of craft beer for $2. That doesn’t ring true. Also Jim, trademark law is involved here (title 15 of the US code), not copyright (title 17). They aren’t the same thing, contrary to popular belief

    • Rick M.
      January 2, 2014 at 10:58 pm #

      ParkercoI, there was $2 gross profit per “F” word pint. That’s an assumption of course, Don might chime in here, wherever he is in “pub-land”.

    • January 2, 2014 at 11:14 pm #

      I think he meant profit, not gross. And I’ll take your word on the TM stuff!

  6. Rick M
    January 2, 2014 at 11:10 pm #

    Follow up, the letter to Mr Bucks clearly states that the $ are profit. (Laughed just as hard when I read it again!)

    • January 2, 2014 at 11:23 pm #

      It’s nice of him to share the spoils – those small business people need to stick together!


  7. January 3, 2014 at 8:58 am #

    I’m glad Exit 6 took it with a good sense of humor. But this whole trademark/intellectual property/etc. thing is really getting out of hand. Hell, the folks that own most of these megacorps are the much-ballyhooed 1%, who already have more money than they can ever possibly spend. They need to get a hobby–home brewing might be a good start.

    • January 3, 2014 at 11:13 am #

      Yikes – don’t encourage an interest in brewing with these predators. The last thing we need is the “Starbucks of beer”! Overpriced, fancy euro-style brew sold at inflated prices. They’d probably figure out a way to trademark the word “Kolsch” – tricky these ones are!


  8. tallfellagph
    January 3, 2014 at 4:03 pm #

    Great column & welcome back from your 2+ month sabbatical.

    • January 3, 2014 at 10:02 pm #

      I knew there was a downside to these posts having a date stamp! 🙂

  9. Mike D
    February 11, 2014 at 5:19 pm #

    So did they cash the check???

    • February 11, 2014 at 5:36 pm #

      I’m going to guess “no” because cashing it could be seen as an acceptance of the terms and make it so their legal case was weaker. But I’d frame that sucker if they did!

      • heinekennut
        February 11, 2014 at 6:24 pm #

        That makes sense Jim.

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