Coffee giant Starbucks demands that a tiny London based coffee kiosk named ‘Star Box Coffee’ changes its name.
Starbucks’ lawyers have written to Nasser Kamali- the owner of the kiosk and have advised that the name ‘Star Box Coffee’ is “technically an infringement of its trade mark rights” and further Starbucks claim that the Kiosk could “weaken its global brand by having a similar name”.
Mr Kamali was stunned when he received the hand delivered letter, especially given that the kiosk next to Swiss Cottage underground station has been running for five years without complaint.
The letter from law firm Burges Salmon, stated that as the world’s biggest coffee company it was critical Starbucks protected its name and clamped down on unauthorised use to avoid the strength of its name being weakened. The letter further advised, “Starbucks request that you adopt a different trading name (not commencing STAR) and change the signage used at your premises, along with the stickers currently applied to coffee cups”.
Mr Kamali has now removed the word ‘star’ from his menus, posters and stickers and has changed the main sign at his kiosk. However, he is refusing to accept a £300 goodwill payment from Starbucks. He commented, “I’m not taking their money and I’m not scared of them”.
Mr Kamali told the Camden New Journal: “I may be small, but inside I am big. I’m not taking their money and I’m not scared of them. But I could not beat Starbucks in court, Be realistic. They have all the lawyers- and the government- so I just made the changes”.
Mr Kamali previously ran a shop in Fortune Green, trade was affected by the opening of a new Tesco, and this led to him setting up the coffee kiosk in Swiss Cottage. Mr Kamali commented, “I also do believe that money means nothing in this world. I don’t buy from these big companies like Starbucks and Tesco. With this letter, you see the power of capitalism”. He continued, “I always pay my rates and rents. It is very difficult. Do they? Mr Kamali- a Marxist keeps a Karl Marx mug and a red star on the shelf of his kiosk. With regards the choice of name for his kiosk, Mr Kamali explained, “I do believe in Marxism and that is very important to me. That is why I had the red star logo on my stickers. I am in a box. It is my red star box”.
A representative for Starbucks told the Camden New Journal: “Trade mark law is there to protect brand identity. In this instance it was too close to our brand and could lead to such confusion”.