A “Dumb Starbucks” coffee house opened its doors in the Los Angeles area this weekend as a parody of the real Starbucks.
Dumb Starbucks has no connection with the “smart” Starbucks franchise, and the marketing-savvy owners claim that they are merely making fun of Starbucks, which allows them to parody the Starbucks name and logo under the “fair use” legal principle.
Baristas at the Los Feliz, Calif., store gave away free coffee on Sunday until supplies ran out. Customers waited on line in the strip mall where Dumb Starbucks is located for as long as two hours to get in.
Dumb Starbucks appears to use the identical logo to the real Starbucks with the addition of the word “dumb” in front of each item. Theories are abounding for why the store suddenly opened for business: “Rumors about the store’s origin percolated through the crowd — a marketing ploy, a pop-up art installation, perhaps reality TV?”
Responding to inquiries about Dumb Starbucks, a corporate spokesperson for Starbucks said that “We’re aware and this isn’t a Starbucks location and we’re looking into it.”
A nasty lawyer’s letter threatening a trademark infringement lawsuit could be on the horizon. Another Starbucks spokesperson apparently disagreeing with the fair use assertion noted that “We appreciate the humor but they can’t use our name. It’s a protected trademark. It’s our trademark.”
Dumb Starbucks owners have yet to respond to media inquiries.
Dumb Starbucks made the fair use claim in a posted FAQ, which also explained that “Although we are a fully functioning coffee shop, for legal reasons Dumb Starbucks needs to be categorized as a work of parody art. So, in the eyes of the law, our ‘coffee shop’ is actually an art gallery and the ‘coffee’ you’re buying is actually the art. But that’s for our lawyers to worry about. All you need to do is enjoy our delicious coffee!”
Enjoy our full menu of coffees and cold drinks pic.twitter.com/wPacrEEH9k
— Dumb Starbucks (@dumbstarbucks) February 8, 2014
Do you think that Dumb Starbucks — assuming its legitimate — will ultimately be able to stay open or is this idea fueled by too much caffeine?