Did Starbucks Tell An Art Project About Starbucks Not To Use Its Name?

from the misuses-of-trademark-law dept

This one seems odd, and there’s not enough evidence here to know how true the story is (or what the details behind it are). However, Copyfight has noticed a blog post about an online “art project” to show a comparison of the locations of local coffee shops with local Starbucks. The idea, of course, is to encourage people to go to the non-Starbuckian shops (though, in its current format, with very few independent coffee shops included, it seems to serve the opposite purpose, by just showing you where the Starbucks are, and leaving you thinking there’s no competition). However, what caught the attention of the Copyfighter in question was the comments to that blog post, where someone asks why the offering, called Delocator.net doesn’t appear to actually mention Starbucks anywhere. Someone apparently involved with the project responds that they were not allowed to use the name Starbucks anywhere, as Starbucks’ lawyers would not allow it. This brings up the obvious question: why should Starbucks’ lawyers have a say in such things? The only claim they could make is a violation of trademark, and if the site is clearly not associated with Starbucks (and the fact that they’re pushing people to go elsewhere might give you a hint that they’re not associated with Starbucks), then it’s not a violation of trademark. Instead, it looks like Starbucks is yet another company trying to use trademark law outside of its intended purpose of avoiding confusion over brands, but more towards anti-competitive practices. Will they go after another coffee shop that compares their coffee to Starbucks’ next? Of course, thanks to this policy, hopefully the Delocator site will get additional publicity — proving, once again, that the Streisand effect works. The more you try to shut something down, the more likely it will spread via the internet.

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Did Starbucks Tell An Art Project About Starbucks Not To Use Its Name?”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
fs (user link) says:


hi mike,

allow for us to clear up the confusion. we (fs) opened an exhibition at SFAI in San Francisco, CA (http://sfai.edu/content/page.aspx?id=46) this past week under the same name. the institution (SFAI) would not allow us to use the word ?starbucks? as a precautionary legal measure. they felt it could draw litigation and because of 11th hour (a weeks prior to opening) the wrangling on their part, we made the concession to accept the terms for the exhibition.

this appears to be a product of the “telephone” game.

it is also important to note that is not an exclusively anti-starbucks project rather we are using starbucks as an example to demonstrate the aggressive power of transnational corporations in our local communities.

finishing school encourages users to download the code provided in the ?toolkit? area and delocate someone else.

thanks for the post.



Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...