Granite State underdog gets victory over coffee giant

It’s the kind of David-tops-Goliath story that warms the heart.

Last week, the 2nd U.S. Court Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of a husband and wife micro coffee roasting company in Tuftonboro, N.H., against trademark infringement charges lodged by Starbucks.

Starbucks sued Black Bear Micro Roastery in 2001, alleging that its “Charbucks” blend infringed, blurred and tarnished its famous trademarks. The Seattle-based multinational coffeehouse giant wasn’t seeking monetary damages. It wanted to force Black Bear from using the “Charbucks” name for its blend.

The court acknowledged “one of the reasons Black Bear used the term ‘Charbucks’ was the public perception that Starbucks roasted its beans unusually darkly.” However, it backed a lower court ruling the found there was minimal similarity and weak evidence of actual association between the brands.

For the record, in 2001 stock in Starbucks topped out at little more than $12 a share. Today its sells for more than $80 a share. In 2012, its total annual revenue was $13.29 billion. That’s right, billion. In 2001 in had 4,709 stores. It now has 20,891 stores in 62 countries and is the largest coffeehouse company in the world.

Starbucks can appeal the ruling. Justice will be served if it doesn’t.


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