Starbucks trade mark Duffin

Bea Vo, the owner of Bea’s of Bloomsbury, a small London based bakery chain claims to have invented the ‘Duffin’ more than 2 years ago. The Duffin is described as a hybrid of a doughnut and a muffin. The sweet treat quickly became one of her most popular products. The recipe was also included in her cookbook- Tea with Bea, published in 2011.

She was shocked therefore, to discover that in July of this year, over two years after her invention of the Duffin, Rich Products a multi-billion pound global company that supplies Starbucks, have successfully trade marked the name Duffin. Soon after Starbucks launched their version of the Duffin across its UK stores.

Vo is now worried that Starbucks could stop her from selling her own product in her bakeries. In a statement Starbucks’ vice-president for marketing and category Ian Cranne said, “since launching, we have discovered that there are other Duffins out there in the UK, including at Bea’s of Bloomsbury…however we’d like to make it clear that neither Starbucks nor Rich’s Products has suggested to Bea’s of Blomsbury that they will attempt to stop them selling their own Duffins.”

However Vo is still concerned about possible future legal implications. In an interview with the Independent she states “they own the trade mark. The only purpose of owning the trade mark is to protect the name. But they’re protecting something that they clearly aren’t the originator of.”

Starbucks have said they had no idea that other Duffins were being sold and nor that anyone was using the name. They claim to have conducted an extensive online search and as a well as a full trademark search.

“Inspired by our muffins, we sat together with our bakers and pondered how you could make a muffin go one step further”, their marketing department claimed.

Vo however has dismissed these claims and points out that a simple google search reveals dozens of references for Duffins, including her own recipe. She told The Independent “Starbucks maintains its original account that its invention is a unique invention and that it did an extensive online search for the word Duffin and found nothing and as a result their supplier trademarked that name. I think that’s rubbish.” she added “I’d love to see the emails between Starbucks and and Rich’s Products during the birth of their invention”.

It seems that many agree with Vo and have taken to the social media site Twitter to show their support for her, by using the hashtag #duffingate.

From a legal perspective this case highlights the importance of registering the trade mark. Its essential and ensures that your brands are properly protected.

This article was written by Fozia Cheychi

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