A bar in Chiba Prefecture has been shut down for its blatant trademark infringement of the Starbucks Coffee Co. logo and name. The owner of the Girl’s Star Bar has found himself in hot water after thinking it would be a good idea to print out the worldwide coffee giant’s logo and alter it slightly for his own design.
The firm that operated the bar, Creative Consultants, and one of its 32 year old executives, are accused of violating Japan’s Trademark Act by using the U.S. coffee company’s circular mermaid logo. The only difference is that the bar’s name is around the design instead of “Starbucks Coffee,” and graphics were added to make it appear as if the woman is holding two glasses of beer. While the name copying isn’t so apparent, it’s much more obvious to native Japanese speakers. “Starbucks” in Japanese is often said as “sta-ba,” a casual, shorthand way of pronunciation. “Star Bar” is a direct play on that, as it would be pronounced “staa baa” (holding the “ah” sounds only slightly longer).
Obviously having no understanding of the concept of trademark, Chiba police quoted the Creative Consultants executive as saying, “As soon as I came up with the name Star Bar, I thought using the Starbucks logo was a good idea.” He even admitted to downloading the Starbucks logo from the internet and paying a third-party to make the Star Bar’s sign. While the establishment was in operation from May 2012 until mid-January of this year, it has been permanently shut down. The owners are accused of doing businesses under the Starbucks Coffee Co. registered trademark without permission, and the case has been handed over to public prosecutors.