January 27, 2005
Round One for Star Bock

StarBock beer has survived a motion for summary judgment in the trademark lawsuit filed against it by Starbucks.

U.S. District Court Judge Samuel Kent issued his decision over the weekend and filed his response with the court Monday, denying all of the requests by the global coffee corporation.

Starbucks delivered a massive, 7-pound volume of legal paperwork to the judge on Dec. 23, citing myriad examples from other well-known trademark cases, and asking him to declare a partial summary judgment or summary adjudication.

The case pits the Seattle-based company against Rex Bell, owner of the Old Quarter Acoustic Café. Bell sells Star Bock Beer from a draught keg at his Galveston bar, a product that Starbucks claims infringes on its well-known worldwide brand.

Bell received approval from the federal trademark office for his beer, but Starbucks opposed the ruling, saying it had subsequently filed its own trademark request regarding its plan to sell coffee-flavored liqueur. Bell’s lawyer countered that move in November 2004 by formally opposing Starbucks’ own distilled spirits trademark.

Kent’s ruling puts the onus on Starbucks to clearly prove in court that Bell’s beer infringes on their trademark.

“Defendants (Starbucks) have not produced evidence of actual economic harm,” Kent wrote in his decision. “The issues of trademark dilution and trademark infringement present nuances of fact best left for trial. Because genuine issues of material fact remain as to each claim, summary judgment is not appropriate.”

One for the good guys. Fight on, Rex.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on January 27, 2005 to Food, glorious food | TrackBack

I used to call this "trademark terrorism," although since 9/11/01 I've backed off (I don't want to trivialize the word terrorism).

But in any case, it's often ridiculous how broadly corporations think their trademarks should be enforced. They really aren't (ahem) fair and balanced about it at all.

If Starbucks' claim against StarBock beer had any validity, then Glen Larson should sue Starbucks for using the name of his character from Battlestar Galactica without permission. That would make just as much sense.

Posted by: Mathwiz on February 3, 2005 3:55 PM