Starbucks, a chain of public restrooms that also sells coffee and stale pastries, has forced a kiosk outside a London Underground station to change its name. Star Box Coffee owner, Nasser Kamali, says he was hand-delivered a cease-and-desist, in which the Seattle headquarters warned that his “unauthorized use” of the company’s trademark could “weaken” the brand by confusing customers.
The letter that Kamali received instructed him to “adopt a different trading name (not commencing STAR) and change the signage used … along with the stickers currently applied to coffee cups.”
Of course, the names do sound sort of similar, but according to the Camden New Journal, Kamali chose the name “Star Box” as an homage to Marxism, not mermaids. The avowed socialist put a red star on the logo, hence “Star,” and his shop is indeed quite boxlike. Kamali — a political refugee from Iran — has also run his tiny takeaway spot for five years, so he’s not sure why Starbucks felt this demand was suddenly so “critical.” The letter offered a £300 “goodwill payment” that Kamali claims he’s rejected on principle. “I may be small, but inside I am big,” he explains. “I’m not taking their money and I’m not scared of them.”
Kamali realized he’d never win in court, however, so he “made” the changes — in the sense that he appears to have just taped over the word “Star” on the sign, and has taken a black Sharpie to the cup logos: