Scalded by trademark infringement from names including Starstruck, global coffee giant Starbucks Corp. is taking no chances.
The Seattle, US-based company has trademarked the “Starbucks” brand in at least 10 Indian languages, including Tamil, Telugu, Punjabi, Bangla, Gujarati and even Urdu—almost as diverse as the states it eventually set up shop in.
It’s still unclear when Starbucks will enter India after the international coffee chain withdrew its application from the Foreign Investment Promotion Board, which approves investments into the country from abroad, in November because government officials raised objections to the majority foreign holding structure of the proposed venture. In India, overseas brands can’t hold more than 51% of any single-brand outlet. Starbucks’ overseas holding was adding up to more than that.
Stung by the objections, Starbucks decided to put on hold its India plans. With the ranks of middle-class Indian swelling, drinking coffee in outlets similar to Starbucks is becoming fashionable in India’s cities and big towns. The country already has several indigenous brands such as Barista and Cafe Coffee Day, and international ones such as Costa Coffee. But with coffee drinking turning into a fad, even those who have had little to do with coffee chains have stepped in. India’s first and most celebratedproducer of herbal beauty potions and creams, Shahnaz Husain, has registered Startstruck as a trademark, brewing up a bit of storm. Starbucks is locked in a legal battle over the similar sounding name.
Starbucks is also challenging another case in India’s Controller General of Patents, Designs and Trade Marks for a deceptively similar name. The American chain is now in 13,000 locations worldwide and if the company has its way, it will be in 27,000 more locations, including some in India.