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Small time café sues Starbucks for trademark infringement

Unicorn latte.jpeg

This is not a story about unicorns and rainbows, at least not the kind your children want. This is much more sinister than that.

Did you try a limited edition Unicorn Frappuccino from Starbucks in April? If you did, you took a sip of an allegedly illegal drink.

The birth of the Unicorn Latte

Late last year, a small coffee shop in Brooklyn brewed the perfect drink to suit their health-conscious, hipster clientele. The colorful "Unicorn Latte" is not caffeinated but contains such healthy ingredients as ginger, lemon juice, vanilla, dates and even blue-green algae.

Shortly after The End café's pink and blue concoction hit the market, it created a social media frenzy in New York. The company submitted a trademark application in January of this year in order to protect its unique creation.

Unfortunately, Starbucks -- the U.S. coffee chain that boasts nearly 25,000 locations around the world -- introduced a sweet milk drink called the Unicorn Frappuccino just three months later. Unicorn Latte creators sued Starbucks for trademark infringement, claiming that the corporate giant purposefully launched a marketing campaign to overshadow the Unicorn Latte and confuse customers of The End café.

What is trademark law?

Trademark law was created to protect owners of goods and services by discouraging others from adopting "confusingly similar" brand names, logos or "looks." Trademark protection is different from patent or copyright protection, a distinction that is best explained with the help of an intellectual property lawyer.

In order for The End café to prevail against Starbucks Corporation, it needs to show that it had rights to the unique drink name that predated Starbucks' adoption of the similar name. Unicorn Latte creators are hoping to obtain compensation for their losses caused by the name confusion and are requesting a public apology.

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