‘Dumb Starbucks’ Labels Itself Parody Art to Escape Legal Repercussions

A potential copyright infringement case emerged in California last week when a very familiar looking storefront popped up in a  a Los Feliz shopping center. The name of the new coffee shop? Dumb Starbucks. The names of the products for sale at Dumb Starbucks are almost indistinguishable from those sold at the “real” Starbucks, except that all of the menu items are preceded with the word “dumb.” For example, people can order a “Dumb Frappuccino” or a “Dumb Blond Roast.”

Is it legal for a store to claim a name that’s almost identical to that of an existing business?

According to a Fact Sheet posted inside the Dumb Starbucks, the establishment is lawful thanks to “parody law”: “By adding the word ‘dumb,’ we are technically making fun of Starbucks, which allows us to use their trademarks under a law known as ‘fair use.'”

The sheet also stated: “Although we are a fully functioning coffee shop, for legal reasons, Dumb Starbucks needs to be categorized as a work of parody art … But that’s for our lawyers to worry about. All you need to do is enjoy our delicious coffee!”

Apparently the satirical version of Starbucks had more pressing problems than a possible copyright lawsuit: the Los Angeles Department of Public Health ruled to close the shop to the public earlier this week because it was operating without a public health permit.

It wasn’t until Monday that Comedy Central star Nathan Fielder came out as the man behind the creation of the imitation coffee chain.

Contact a Miami Copyright or Trademark Infringement Lawyer Today

The attorneys at the Miami office of Mano Alwine, P.L. have vast experience litigating disputes over copyright or trademark infringement, and will fight to protect the rights of the entertainers and businesses we represent. Contact us at 305-341-3100 for a free consultation to determine if we can assist you.