Charbucks Lawsuit

Dec. 3, 2009 - Starbucks Corp.’s lawsuit to stop a family-owned coffee roaster in New Hampshire from selling a blend called “Charbucks” was revived after a federal appeals court vacated part of a ruling favoring the smaller company.

Starbucks, based in Seattle, sued in 2001 in federal court in Manhattan accusing Black Bear’s owner, Wolfe’s Borough Coffee Inc., of confusing consumers and diluting the value of the Starbucks brand by selling Charbucks in New England and online. Starbucks appealed after U.S. District Judge Taylor Swain dismissed the claims in June 2008.

Black Bear chose the Charbucks and Mister Charbucks names to highlight the “charred” nature of its darkest blend and to associate itself with Starbucks, according to the ruling. That doesn’t mean Black Bear did so in bad faith, or that consumers were confused, the judges wrote.

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