It’s the case of small-town brewery vs. coffee behemoth. And boy, do people love small guys who stand up for themselves, especially in the waning days of the year.
By KATHY LU
The Kansas City Star
Earlier this month, Exit 6 Brewery in Cottleville (pop. 3,075), received a cease and desist letter about the use of the name of one of its brews, the Frappicino.
“As you probably know, Starbucks Coffee Co. is the owner of a number of world-famous trademarks, including the well-known FRAPPUCCINO trademark,” the letter reads. “The FRAPPICINO mark only differs from Starbucks Coffee Co.’s FRAPPUCCINO mark by one letter, and is phonetically identical. Exit 6’s use ... is likely to cause confusion, mistake.”
But the young brewery, which opened in 2011, was not afraid. After all, on its website, it touts itself as the home of “No Compromise Brewing.”
So the owner wrote an appropriately apologetic yet defensive letter to “Mr. Bucks,” stating: “I am writing in response to your letter dated 12/9/13 in regards to the ‘Frappuccino’ (at risk of further lawsuits, heretofore known as ‘The F Word’) beer listed on Untappd. As you probably don’t know, Exit 6 is the proud owner of no trademarks including our own name much less than the name ‘F Word’ and nothing about Exit 6 is incontestable.”
It continues: “We never thought that our beer drinking customers would have thought that the alcoholic beverage coming out of the tap would have actually been coffee from one of the many, many, many stores located a few blocks away. I guess that with there being a Starbucks on every corner of every block in every city that some people may think they could get a Starbucks at a local bar. So that was our mistake.”
As a show of deep repentance, the letter was sent with a $6 check — the profit from the sale of the three “F-word” beers.
“We just want to help a business like Starbucks,” the letter reads. “Us small business owners need to stick together.”
The tale has since gone viral, making its way onto CNN, Slate and countless Facebook pages. Be sure to read the hilarious letter all the way to the end for some good post scripts.
Meanwhile, on the Untappd beer social blog, several users wrote they recently drank the F-Word brew, and some wished they could: “I only wish I were actually drinking this. Just showing this brewer some support after his run in with some unheard of coffee chain.”