Legal Disclaimer:
Scott wrote this while drinking three cups of coffee. It was not Starbucks brand. Of his coffee expenditures, 90% goes to Kaldi’s. He has never been to Exit 6. He suspects his attorney has been to Exit 6, and his attorney has great taste in coffee and beer (This is Scott’s opinion only, and this statement has no basis in fact). Scott has no legal background. So this should not be construed as legal advice, coffee advice or beer advice. He rides his bike on the Kaldi’s MS150 te
am. He doesn’t like Jack Daniel’s or whiskey in general. He does like coffee and beer. He would love to join the meeting of Exit 6 and Starbucks “leadership” for a beer.

Recently a small brewery called Exit 6 in Cottleville, Missouri gained attention for alleged IP infringement of a popular coffee drink from Starbucks. Exit 6 responded to the Cease & Desist letter from the Starbucks legal team with a clever and snarky letter (which will give you a chuckle or two) that has been widely shared on social media.

Here is the backstory (If you would like, you can read a wonderfully reported piece by Riverfront Times.

Three Exit 6 customers “named” one of the beers on tap after Starbucks’ popular coffee drink, Frappucino®, on a website called Untappd . The interesting thing is that the brewery had actually not done anything infringing on Starbucks IP. Exit 6 does not brew a Frappucino® beer. Some customers just named the beer after the popular Starbuck’s beverage and even misspelled it in the process. Yet the legal team watching out for the Starbucks was quickly on the case, sending a cease and desist letter to Exit 6 and to the folks who run the Untappd website.

If the attorneys had done a little homework, they would have realized that the brewery didn’t have a beer named after this famed coffee drink. They jumped the gun.

Kudos to the owner of Exit 6 and his legal “team” for creating a marketing and PR opportunity. Just how much opportunity remains to be seen. Links to various media including KSDK and other industry publications are popping up all over Twitter and Facebook. I personally have never been to Exit 6 Brewery. But based on this creativity, will most definitely stop in and check it out.

The hard part is Starbucks now has come off as picking on the little guy. Their PR team has to look at this and decide what to do. My guess is they will ignore it. What I suggest is that the CEO of Starbucks and the CEO of Exit 6 get together for coffee and a beer.

As a guide for Starbuck’s, they could take a look at how Jack Daniel’s responded to IP issues. Jack Daniel’s strategy is impressive.

In the meantime, I will visit Kaldi’s for my next coffee and Exit 6 for my next beer.

Article written by

partner/marketing strategist/climber of mountains