Dumb Starbucks Is Shut Down… For Reasons Entirely Unrelated To Questionable IP Usage
from the so-this-is-how-it-ends,-not-with-a-bang-but-with-a-bureaucrat dept
The Dumb Starbucks goes down, but for the least interesting reason possible. The sudden appearance of a coffee shop blatantly using Starbucks’ trademarks (with the word “dumb” appended) and claiming something called “parody law” would save it raised several questions. First and foremost was: who the hell thinks they can get away with this?
Anyone wishing for Dumb Starbucks to be a test case for “parody law” will be severely disappointed. The Dumb Starbucks in Los Angeles was just shut down, but the non-Dumb Starbucks legal team had nothing to do with it.
The Los Angeles County Health Department shut down the Dumb Starbucks on Monday just as the man behind the faux coffee shop in the Los Feliz neighborhood revealed he was the host of a Comedy Central TV show.
The shop was closed for operating without a health permit, the department told the Los Angeles Times. A sign was posted on the front window of the store on Hillhurst Avenue on Monday evening, saying it was closed for violations.
The whole thing was simply a stunt for a Comedy Central show starring Nathan Fielder, who held a “tongue-in-cheek” press conference while wearing one of the famous (Dumb) green aprons. According to him, Comedy Central is only now aware of his promotional stunt.
The only people who could possibly have been seriously hoping Dumb Starbucks would act as a test case for fair use and parody would be those who would like to see fair use weakened. The store’s “fact sheet,” which “cited” fair use and “parody law,” parked itself in the middle ground between ham-fisted and half-assed and gave every impression it was written by a copyright maximalist trying to be clever.
So, even if the abrupt end of the Dumb Starbucks franchise is rather anticlimactic, we can at least be grateful this publicity stunt didn’t make its way through the court system, where it could have generated some bad precedent with its disingenuous take on fair use. For better or worse, Fielder stated at his faux press conference that he was thinking of opening up another store in Brooklyn, something Comedy Central might want to keep an eye on, considering comedy sometime relies very heavily on parody.