Here’s an article from the Hollywood Reporter about a stunt that took place last weekend in Los Feliz, California. It seems a new store called “Dumb Starbucks” popped up in a strip mall there. The shop served “dumb” coffee drinks for free, which meant it drew huge lines.
The shop looked a lot like a Starbucks – same colors, same logo, just with the word “Dumb” added. Which meant in addition to customers, it drew the attention of Starbucks’ lawyers. And they claim the store infringed on the Starbucks trademark. It turns out the people behind the store were Comedy Central and comedian Nathan Fielder. Comedy Central is owned by Viacom, who has its own lawyers on the payroll. They contend the use of the mark is protected parody. Perhaps. But it all may be moot. On Monday, Los Angeles County Health inspectors shut the store down because it had no license to operate.
So, forget about “parody” and “nomitive use.” Don’t mess with the bureaucrats.