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The Starbucks Trademark Dilemma

Let's say you open up a business in the early 1970s, and you build it up from the ground up. You start off with only one store, and you face heavy competition as the city is known for your particular product. However, you endure and thrive because of clever marketing and a good product. You become so big that you sell your business, and the business explodes. From one shop in 1971, the business expands and forty years later, there are nearly twenty thousand locations in 61 countries around the world. Wouldn't that business want to make sure that all of the hard work and dedication put out by its owners and employees stay protected? This is exactly the problem faced by Starbucks.

Recently, Starbucks found itself in the news for pursuing litigation against a small day care center for dogs in Illinois. Now, you're probably asking yourself how does a small, canine day care center get involved with a global coffee chain. It has to do with the name and the logo the dog day care center is using. The name of the pooch establishment is called “Starbarks”, and their logo is oval-shaped and is green and black. Does that sound familiar?

Now, on one hand, some may argue that this is a case of a big company being a bully and trying to interfere with a small business that can't possibly compete on the same level. Starbarks is hoping that public opinion takes this position and is asking people to voice their concerns on Facebook. However, on the other hand, Starbucks is also trying to protect what it built. If companies were allowed to steal other businesses' logos just to gain notoriety, how far can they take this? Just because a company is larger than the other, it doesn't mean that its logos and name shouldn't be protected. Otherwise, the brand becomes tarnished and marginalized.

This is just one instance of many occasions when people and businesses try to use a company's brand for their own financial gain. There is something to be said for creative marketing, but this can be taken too far. In the case of Starbarks, this is probably the case, and the dog day care center will need to cease and desist. If you live in the California area and feel that your trademark or logo is being used without your permissions, you have rights. Contact a California business litigation lawyer to help you keep your good name.  

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Chuck Stevens is an avid blogger always looking to share his experiences and recommendations. He is a law enthusiast, huge football fan and works everyday towards preparing for the zombie-apocalypse.  You can follow him on Twitter @chuckstevens12.

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