NEW YORK — A New York café has filed a $10 million trademark infringement lawsuit against Starbucks, claiming the coffee chain stole the idea for its Unicorn Frappuccino from the Brooklyn establishment, the New York Post reported.
The owners of The End Brooklyn also claim in the federal lawsuit that its customers believed it was serving a “copy-cat or knockoff” of the Starbucks drink.
According to the lawsuit, The End Brooklyn began selling a “Unicorn Latte” drink in December 2016 and applied to trademark the name on January 20, the Post reported. The application, filed at the the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office website, is still pending.
Starbucks launched its version on the blended beverage on April 17 – and it became wildly popular. A video of a barista complaining about the drink’s popularity went viral.
“The size of and scope of Starbucks’ product launch was designed so that the Unicorn Frappuccino would eclipse the Unicorn Latte in the market, thereby harming [The End] and confusing their customers,” the suit says.
Neither drink contains coffee. The End’s version is made from “cold-pressed ginger, lemon juice, dates, cashews, blended with additional healthy, dried ingredients such as maca root, blue-green algae, and vanilla bean,” according to the lawsuit. Starbucks’ version is “a concoction of milk, artificial sweeteners, color additives, and pinches of fruit juice concentrate for flavor,” according to court papers.
Even though Starbucks’ Unicorn Frappuccino had a limited run and is no longer available, The End’s suit says the damage has been done.
“Starbucks’ conduct has diluted the distinctive quality of [The End’s] famous Unicorn Latte mark and has and is likely to continue to confuse consumers into believing that Starbucks’ products are affiliated with, or are otherwise endorsed or approved by [The End], and vice-versa,” the suit says. The coffee shop is seeking unspecified compensation for “infringing, diluting, and otherwise diminishing the value of [The End’s] intellectual property,” the Post reported, adding that the Brooklyn cafe also wants a public apology.