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: