Starbucks sent a cease and desist letter to Starbarks doggie daycare for having a name, logo, and web domain too similar to the coffee company's. A Starbucks representative defended the action: "...we have a legal obligation to protect our intellectual property . . . in order to retain our exclusive rights to it."
Andrea McCarthy-Grzybek, the owner of Starbarks, said, "I love the name. Everyone loves it. It's clever. It's not like we sell coffee or anything they do." With the URL, www.starbarksdog.com, the Algonquin, IL, small business offered to change the sign color to yellow and to use a graphic of paws instead of the stars, but Starbucks didn't bite (sorry).
Another company, with the domain starbarksaz.com, had a similar fate. Management explained the situation on its website:
"Due to a conflict with a very famous coffee company our previous name (which we cannot mention) had to be changed to Canine Village only. We are the same kennel and Canine Village was always a 'part' of our name. This website will be shut down shortly so please go to www.caninevillage.com and see all our wonderful reviews and many pages of information. You can also email us with specific questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for your understanding of this inconvenience."
As expected, public opinion is mixed, with some people blaming Starbucks for bullying and others saying the small business should have known better.
Discussion Starters and Assignment Idea:
- What's your view of the situation? Is Starbucks a bully, or should the small business owner have chosen another name?
- Write a draft comment for the owner's Facebook page supporting one side of the argument.