Starbucks vs. Star Bock

Discussion in 'Off-topic Zone' started by WoodysGirl, Jun 6, 2005.

  1. WoodysGirl

    WoodysGirl U.N.I.T.Y Staff Member

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    Beverage battle waged in Galveston courtroom

    Copyright 2005 Houston Chronicle

    GALVESTON - A tiny Galveston bar squared off against Starbucks today in an attempt to settle whether drinkers are likely to associate Star Bock beer -- a little known local brew that's no longer even available -- with the Seattle java giant.

    U.S. District Judge Samuel Kent spent less than a day listening to arguments in the trademark infringement case and this afternoon promised to his announce his decision in August.

    Rex "Wrecks" Bell, owner of the Old Quarter Acoustic Cafe, has long said he got the idea for his beer after a customer asked for one Texas beer, Lone Star, and changed his order to another Texas beer, Shiner Bock. He's said that when he joked he could serve a Star Bock beer, a thoroughly Texan beer was born in the low-key, scuffed-up bar that's a haunt of Texas folk and alternative country musicians.

    Testifying today he never even thought about Starbucks at the time, he began selling the beer out of a single spigot at his bar in 2002 and ran out about a month ago.

    He testified he doesn't know his beer's recipe himself, since he hired Brenham Brewery -- now out of business -- to "tweak" its highly-rated Brenham Bock and ship 100 kegs to the Galveston bar.

    Bell testified that as more customers began ordering the beer, he searched the Internet to see if anyone owned the name he wanted, and finding the one-word name StarBock available, he paid $355 to register the trademark and continued to sell his beer under the two-word name Star Bock.

    "I thought it was just a great name for a beer, especially for a Texas beer," he testified today.

    On cross-examination, however, Starbucks' lawyers implied Bell was well-aware of how similar StarBock and Star Bock are to Starbucks and wanted to cash in on the publicity the case has generated around the world. Although Bell no longer has beer to sell, he hopes to team up with a brewery, perhaps even a large one, once the legal wranglings are over and breweries consider it prudent to proceed.

    Starbucks called to the stand a University of Houston marketing professor who testified that when 450 consumers were asked online whether they thought a new beer called Star Bock or StarBock was associated with another company, 48 percent said Star Bock made them think of Starbucks and 58 percent linked StarBock to Starbucks. The beverage battle first began when Starbucks' legal team got wind of Bell's trademark filing and started sending warning letters, then raised a formal objection with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. But it was Bell who forced the battle into a showdown, when he had his attorney, John Egbert, file a suit in Galveston for a declaratory judgment allowing Bell to market his beer as Star Bock.

    Starbucks countersued, seeking an order preventing Bell from using the name and making him cover its hefty attorneys fees.

    Both sides met in an attempt to resolve their differences on their own, and Bell said today that Starbucks' people claimed they wanted to settle things "amicably."

    "Amicably meant that I just go away, tear up all my logos...and just disappear," he said.
  2. The30YardSlant

    The30YardSlant Benched

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    So THATS why my coffee tasted funny this morning.... :banghead:

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