Starbucks recently lost in a lawsuit with the small New Hampshire Coffeehouse, Black Bear Micro Roastery, because it used names like "Mister Charbucks" and the "Charbucks Blend". In a decision by the 2nd Circuit Court, Starbucks was denied injunctive relief initially because the first judge believed that there was enough difference between the names for consumers to differentiate between the two. A three-judge panel reaffirmed this decision when they then found that through use of the names as one amongst many coffee blends on their website, as well as through the use of the Black Bear logo on the packaging, there was sufficient differentiation between Black Bear products and Starbucks.
In the case, Starbucks was unable to show that Black Bear intended for an association to be made between the two. Starbucks attempted to use a survey to help them show that consumers made an association between Starbucks and Charbucks. However, these results were discredited because the people surveyed reacted to "Charbucks" as an isolated word, not in the context of the Charbucks Blend in relation to Black Bear Micro Roastery, as well as the fact that the number of people who noted an association between the two companies was fairly small. In terms of company size, Starbucks is a huge national company that has over 8,700 locations within the United States and made more than $5.4 billion dollars in 2004. In comparison, Black Bear is a small New Hampshire based coffee company that sells out of one retail location and via the internet, it is not likely the two could be mixed up.
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