Starbucks Corp has been slapped with a trademark infringement lawsuit by a New York coffee shop in connection with its highly-Instagrammable Unicorn Latte. According to lawsuit, which filed on Wednesday in U.S. District Court in New York, the End Brooklyn and its owner, Montauk Juice Factory (“the plaintiffs”), allege that they created the Unicorn Latte, “its own bright pink and blue drink, and began selling it in December 2016, four months before Starbucks launched the Unicorn Frappuccino,” per Reuters.
According to court documents, Montauk Juice Factory filed an application to register “Unicorn Latte” with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office a month later – in January 2017 – after the popularity of its drink soared, accounting for about a quarter of the store's sales since its launch.
Not only do the drinks share the same name, the plaintiffs allege that the lookalike nature of the drinks themselves stand to create confusion amongst consumers – the central inquiry in a trademark infringement matter. As set forth in the complaint, Starbucks should be "held accountable for infringing, diluting and otherwise diminishing" the value of the plaintiffs' trademark.
The plaintiffs are seeking injunctive relief (which would immediately and permanently bar Starbucks from using the “Unicorn Latte” trademark) and all profits that Starbucks made from the Unicorn drink, as well as monetary damages in connection with any losses that they incurred.
Seattle-based Starbucks previously stated that its Unicorn Frappuccino was inspired by the "fun, spirited, and colorful unicorn-themed food and drinks that have been trending in social media."
Thrillist ran an article last month noting the colorful unicorn-inspired products have “taken over the internet.” The site stated, “The multi-colored and oft-glittered creations are nearly impossible to avoid these days, unless you've barricaded yourself away from social media.” The Los Angeles Times, wrote: “The drink dominated social media, with more than 1.3 billion impressions on Twitter, according to the analytics firm Brandwatch. On Instagram, more than 150,000 posts were tagged #unicornfrappuccino. Countless more photos and videos made their way onto Snapchat and Facebook.”
Starbucks has released a statement saying that the drink at issue was offered for a limited period in April only and is no longer available.