Starbucks Hit With Trademark Suit Over Unicorn Frappuccino

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By Malathi Nayak

A New York cafe says Starbucks Corp’s limited-time, colorful Unicorn Frappuccino infringes its trademark ( Montauk Juice Factory Inc. v. Starbucks Corp. , E.D.N.Y., No. 1:17-cv-02678, complaint filed 5/3/17 ).

A cafe called the End Brooklyn and its owner Montauk Juice Factory Inc. filed a lawsuit May 3 against Starbucks in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York. They alleged that Starbucks’ Unicorn Frappuccino made with milk, juice concentrate, color additives and artificial sweeteners causes customer confusion and dilutes the brand value of its “Unicorn Latte” drink. They seek an injunction to stop Starbucks from infringing its trademark and damages for harm caused to its business that makes “healthy” beverages.

The cafe filed a trademark application Jan. 20 at the Patent and Trademark Office for its “Unicorn Latte,” which it began offering late last year, the complaint said. The latte, which was introduced at the cafe in December, is made from “fresh juices and healthy ingredients” such as dates and blue-green algae, but no coffee or milk, the complaint said.

“Consumers who would have been interested in the Unicorn Latte because of the health benefits of the beverage now associate it with the unhealthy ingredients of Starbucks’ 'Unicorn Frappuccino’ and are deterred from trying it,” the cafe said in its complaint.

Starbucks said in a statement that the cafe’s infringement claims were without merit. The company sparked a social media frenzy when it sold the Unicorn Frappuccino from April 19 to 23 as numerous consumers posted pictures of the pink and blue drink on Instagram.

To contact the reporter on this story: Malathi Nayak in Washington at mnayak@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mike Wilczek at mwilczek@bna.com

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