Published November 27, 2016
Caffeine is a stimulant, cannabis is a psychoactive drug—and Starbucks doesn’t want anyone to confuse its product with something that promotes a mostly-illegal substance.
According to Law360, a U.S. District Court judge in New York has ordered an Oregon artist named James Landgraf to repay Starbucks $410,800 — $300,000 for copyright infringement, $99,000 for trademark infringement and $11,580 in attorneys’ fees — for designing a water pipe that looked way too much like the coffee company’s Frappuccino cups.
Starbucks argued that Landgraf and Hitman Glass, an e-commerce site that sold the bong, “willfully intended to create an association with the Starbucks Marks and to capitalize upon the success and popularity of the Starbucks Marks to sell [their] products.”
The products in question include a line of water pipes (i.e. bongs) that looked very similar to the chain’s Frappuccino cups. The “Dabuccino” glass vessels featured a logo that looked very similar to the company’s Siren and the mouthpiece was a green straw. Pieces from the “line sold from $200 to a whopping $8,000—with their now illegal status, the prices may skyrocket.
The resulting sale of these devices, Starbucks said, was a trademark dilution that “has caused and will continue to cause irreparable injury and damage to Starbucks Corp.’s business, reputation, and goodwill.”
Earlier this month, when Landgraf failed to show up to defend himself and didn’t send a lawyer to represent him, District Judge Otis D. Wright granted Starbucks a default judgment. The lawsuit was initially filed in June. Whether appearing in court would have helped Landgraf is debatable because, per Wright's ruling, “It is clear from public statements ... that they intended to create an association with the famous mark…. For example, the Dabuccino Series One bong is advertised as ‘taking inspiration from one of America’s favorite frozen coffee drinks’ and ‘easily relatable.'”
The ruling applies only to Landgraf. Hitman Glass has removed the bong from its website, but that case continues.