Saturday, January 13, 2007

Starbucks loses trademark battle in South Korea

South Korea's Supreme Court on Friday rejected a claim by Starbucks that a local mobile coffee-shop chain infringed on its trademark rights by using a similar brand name and logo.

The Supreme Court upheld a decision handed down by the Patent Court of Korea in March 2005 that Elfreya's trademark and logo are not similar to those of the global cafe chain.

"There is no similarity as a whole between the trademarks and logo of Starbucks and those of Elfreya as they have different appearance and names," the court said.

"Considering the timing when Starbucks started business here and the intensity of its advertisement activity, it cannot be said either that the Starbucks trademark was well-known here before Elfreya registered its trademark," it said.

The South Korean company was launched in 1999 with the brand name Starpreya and logo of a green circle surrounding the image of what it called a goddess, similar to the well-known Starbucks logo.

But the patent court said the two logos are not alike because Elfreya logo has the image of a goddess while that of Starbucks has a mermaid in its symbol.

The Seattle-based coffee chain, which started business here in 1999, on Thursday opened its 190th shop in South Korea.

Source: DNA Money, January 12, 2007

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