Bungholes: Starbucks demands arrests in IP case

Thai authorities are considering a call from Starbucks, the kaisers of corporate coffee, to arrest the owners of a hand-pushed coffee cart with a curious name.

In papers filed yesterday with the Central Intellectual Property and International Trade Court, Starbucks asked the court to order the arrest of the owner of coffee stall “Starbung” and his brother as part of an ongoing copyright dispute.

The U.S. coffee chain also wants the men find THB300,000 plus interest.

Starbucks claimed that Damrong Maslae, a 43-year-old father of six, and his brother Damras Maslae have violated a court order issued one month ago prohibiting them from using the likeness of its logo, according to ASTV Manager. Damrong and Damras are scheduled to stand trial Nov. 4, which could see them jailed if found guilty.

Starbucks has thrown the book at the men, who operate the single cart in the Rattanakosin district of the Thai capital.

Starbucks also filed an additional lawsuit against Starbung for violating Articles 109 and 110 of the Thai Trademark Act B.E.2534. The coffee chain asked Starbung to pay damages of THB300,000 plus 7.5% interest and make a monthly payment of THB30,000 until the defendant stops using the logo. That case is set to go to court on Feb. 10, 2014.

The case began last year when Starbucks hit Starbung with a cease-and-desist letter. Through rounds of arbitration,an agreement could not be reached as Starbung claimed its logo was different from that of Starbucks and was inspired by Islam, the religion that Damrong practices.

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Damrong Maslae’s “Starbung” coffee cart. It’s easy to see how customers could confuse this with the 21,000 franchises of the NASDAQ-traded coffee chain. 

Photo: Marty Tissle

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