Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Starbucks Slips in the Socialist Shuffle

http://www.toomuchcoffee.comIf you want a latte in Moscow, you’ll have to resort to what we do here in the Middle of Beyond: get your own espresso machine. Meanwhile, Starbucks was less-than-vigilant when it came to guarding its name and got caught with its capitalist knickers down:

    The U.S. coffee giant has been eyeing the Russian market since 1997, when it registered the Starbucks trademark with patent agency Rospatent.
Maybe Starbucks’ attention wandered? An entity calling itself OOO Starbucks has taken over the name and now the case is in court.
     Rights to the trademark first became an issue in 2002, when a Russian company called Press appealed to Rospatent for the rights to the Starbucks name, as it had not been used for more than three years, and later that year sold the rights to OOO Starbucks, which is unrelated to the U.S. company.
Needless to say, what OOO wants is a whole bunch of money and they’ll go away. A “whole bunch” in this case is $600,000.00 — surely not much more than the average New York City daily take at a local Starbucks’ café?
     The U.S. company's position is looking stronger, as it has secured the support of a number of influential figures in Russia, the report says, including Arkady Volsky, the head of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs. Volsky is also co-chairman of the Russian-American Commercial Energy Dialog.
Maybe it’s the principle of the thing? Whatever. For the moment, things are up in the air:
     U.S. Embassy spokesman David Foley declined to say whether the embassy was in talks with Starbucks. He added, "If a Starbucks were to open here, it would be in the embassy cafeteria."
Well, there you are. Another luxury posting for the people from Foggy Bottom.


Vikrant said...

Sorry for taking this a bit off topic,
but has Jihad Watch gone down?? I cant access it. Its 3:30 pm here in England...

Baron Bodissey said...

It seems to be out here, too... very strange.

Anonymous said...

Maybe Russia is making progress. Copyrights and trade names are essential to a free economy. They are part of property rights. If Starbucks wins it will be a big plus.

Dymphna said...

Of course Starbucks will win. First they have to pay the baksheesh. They shoulda kept an eye on the copyright laws...I think the lawyer they hired to do that is probably no longer with them.

Dymphna said...

Jihad Watch had mentioned that they might shut down. THey lost some funding they needed. I asked them about this a week or two ago and they said it was true, they might go under.

Still, one would expect a goodbye note, a la den Beste.

Vikrant said...

if wat u say is true, then its a sad thing. I'm praying that its just temporary...

David Foley said...

Just saw your blog by accident while looking for how something else I said on a different issue was quoted in the press. So, just to update, our cafeteria IS now serving Starbucks coffee, but we don't have any of the other items that you might find at a normal Starbucks (and can only dream of such things). The cafeteria is run by the American Embassy Community Association, a private organization that belongs to it's members (US personnel and associate members such as US journalists, businessmen, etc. and all of us must pay the significant annual fee +$300/year if we choose to join.) As to the "luxury" posting here in Moscow, I have to laugh. You should join me on my hour commute each way to my ancient apartment or come visit us in our small cubicles (not offices) here in the Embassy. I suppose some think it really is all cocktail parties and stripey pants I suppose, but begrudging someone a good cup of coffee in the morning still seems a little tough.

All the best,

David Foley
Deputy Press Attache
US Embassy Moscow