Starbucks Sues Bangkok Street Vendor

Late-night workers and students taking online culinary courses would pay an arm and a leg for a steady stream of caffeine when trying to finish a large chunk of a project. If you are trying to get into the market, make sure you’re not competing against a global coffeehouse.

Starbucks, the largest coffeehouse company in the world, is filing a copyright suit against a 43-year-old street vendor in Bangkok. Damrong “Bung” Maslae and his brother Damras ignored a court junction that demanded they stop selling their $1 cups of coffee under a logo that shares similar features to that of the corporate giant’s.

Bung and his brother had been using this logo since early September 2012. The brothers received the cease-and-desist order in October 2012, when they decided to alter their logo to a man encircled in green and white and bordered by the Islamic crescent moon and stars. They hoped that such changes would be enough to escape the attention of Starbucks and continued to sell their coffee with this new logo and even began distributing T-shirts, stickers and wrappers.

Starbucks is now demanding about 300,000 baht each year the brothers continue to use the logo. The global corporation is also seeking a monthly fine of 30,000 baht until the brothers cease to use the logo “Starbung.” It is claiming that confusion might arise among potential customers who think they are buying Starbucks-brand coffee.

Bung, who is raising six children from the profits of his coffee business, says that he would fight the charges if he had enough money to pay for representation.

On the other hand, Starbucks is represented by 21,000 coffeeshops in over 60 countries, 171 of which are located in Thailand. In 2012, Starbucks reported a net income of $1.38 billion.

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