September 5, 2018 / Blog, Case Comment

Starbucks, the US-based global coffee chain has filed a lawsuit against the Delhi based Coffee Chain Sardarbuksh in Delhi High Court on July 13th, 2018 for trademark infringement as they have copied their company name as well as their logo. Both the names are phonetically similar which leads to infringement of trademark. Further, there is a lack of a cogent reason for such naming.

Starbucks entered into the Indian market in collaboration with Tata Group in 2012. The company currently has 125 outlets across India, and 28,000 outlets in 70 countries. After filing the suit in Delhi High Court, the court granted an interim order on August 1, 2018 asking the company to change their name to Sardarji-Buksh and change its logo as well. The local company’s 30 upcoming outlets will showcase the new branding but the 5 existing outlets will carry the original branding till the court’s final order, which will be held on September 18, 2018.
“We will address any infringement to our brand, including trademarks,” a Starbucks spokesperson said in an emailed response to Economic Time’s queries. “We always prefer to resolve trademark disputes informally and amicably whenever possible, and to prevent confusion among customers.”

When the owners of the local company were asked about the case, they claimed they had never been to Starbucks. The business partners expressed their wish of sticking to the old branding.

Sardarbuksh is not alone, there was a similar-sounding cafe in Pakistan by the name of Sattarbuksh which was eventually rebranded due to fear of legal action from Starbucks.

Local entrepreneurs having little idea about intellectual property rights have faced many such big company actions in other occasions like Burger King and Mr Singh Burger King.

This legal battle for trademark may take some time to reach an outcome as the local company’s owners are prepared to fight for their brand name in the court.

Till then let’s sip a nice steaming mug of coffee and wait for the final judgement.

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Cover photo credit: Anders Björk license Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)
Cover photo credit: Basheer Tome under license Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)
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