Starbucks clashes with small Alaska company over trademark
A sign is seen in a Starbucks located in downtown Pittsburgh on March 24, 2018. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
The Associated Press
Published Tuesday, September 10, 2019 2:35PM EDT
ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- A small Alaska apparel company is clashing with Starbucks over a trademark term the Seattle-based coffee giant says is too closely linked to its own branding.
Starbucks wants the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to reject an application by Wasilla-based Mountains & Mermaids, the Anchorage Daily News reported .
The Alaska company late last year applied to trademark the term "Siren's Brew" for its products. It has branded its apparel with the image of a siren or mermaid holding a cup of coffee, and recently began using the design on coffee.
In February, Starbucks applied to trademark "Siren's Blend" for its coffee products. The trademark office has refused Starbucks application as of May, based on "a likelihood of confusion" with Siren's Brew, Starbucks said in an August opposition filing.
Monica Hamilton, who owns Mountains & Mermaids with her daughter, Sarah, said they were shocked to learn about Starbucks' opposition to their trademark application.
"There's no brand confusion here at all," she said. "We're not interested in interfering with their business, nor what are we interested in them interfering with our business."
The Alaska business is an online retailer created in 2017. Many of its products sport nautical imagery. The term, "Siren's Brew," applies to products like hoodies mugs and stickers that include the design of a siren or mermaid holding a coffee cup. A quote included in the design states, "A siren needs her morning coffee before a day of wrecking ships & drowning men."
Starbucks says its longtime use of a siren in its branding doesn't end with its familiar green logo. The company says it also has extended to Starbucks' use of the word "Siren," according to its filing. Starbucks said employees use the word to refer to the business and its products.
"For nearly half a century, Starbucks has invested in creating the association between a Siren and coffee," the company said in an emailed statement. "The Siren has been integral to our logo since we were established in 1971, and is the face of the Starbucks brand to the world."
Eric Pelton, an attorney representing Mountains & Mermaids, said that whatever term Starbucks workers use within the company to describe its branding is not the same as a trademark. Pelton said he plans to submit a response to Starbucks' opposition to the trademark office next week.