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Starbungs vs. Starbucks: Billion dollar corporation vs. street vendor

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Threatened with lawsuit, trademark changed. Now pushcart owner inside with star, crescent & green for Islamic religion. 

The Starbung name is derived from 'Bung', the nickname of owner Damrong Maslae, who says he chose the green colour scheme because he is a Muslim.


Starbucks sues street vendor for B300,000


Online reporters

The global coffee chain Starbucks is suing a Bangkok street vendor for 300,000 baht for copying its famous green logo on his 'Starbung' coffee cart.

In its Trademark Act violation complaint against Damrong Maslae, Starbucks Corp is also demanding a monthly payment of 30,000 baht plus legal fees.

The US-based chain says the vendor has designed his own trademark in a way that is similar to Starbucks, featuring a round logo and dark green background with a human figure inside the circle.

The brand name, Starbung ("Bung" is Mr Damrong's nickname), is also written in capital letters and placed in the same position as the Starbucks name on its logo.

According to a report by ASTV Manager, Starbucks filed a petition with the Central Intellectual Property and International Trade Court, seeking the arrest of Mr Damrong and his younger brother Damras Maslae, as well as financial compensation. The court set a trial date for Nov 4.

The company's petition states that on Sept 18 it obtained a court injunction ordering Mr Damrong and Mr Damras to stop using the words "STARBUNG COFFEE" and the green logo for their products, clothing and paper wrappers for coffee cups. However, they declined to follow the injunction, the company said.

Starbucks also filed a criminal complaint with the same court against both men for copying its trademark and sought a court order to terminate the use of the brothers' logo. It demanded the compensation of 300,000 baht with 7.5% interest per year until they stop using the logo. As well, it is seeking monthly compensation of 30,000 baht and payment for legal fees.

The company said it owned the trademarks "STARBUCK" and "STARBUCKS" with a mermaid figure inside a green circle. It has registered the trademark all over the world, including Thailand and its mark is publicly well-known.

In the petition, Starbuck said the defendants sold coffee and tea from a push cart at Ban Phra Arthit in Bangkok. In September 2012, it claimed, the brothers showed their intention to violate the Trademark Act by creating a similar mark, which could make the public misunderstand and believe that their mark was that of Starbucks.

The company said it sent a warning letter to the men on Oct 17 last year but they ignored it. Since the brothers have expanded the use of their Starbung mark on stickers, paper wrappers and clothes. The company sent another letter but Mr Damrong instead demanded 3 million baht from Starbucks.

Starbucks said it had asked the Intellectual Property Department to bring Mr Damrong into the arbitration system but the proposal was rejected.

Mr Damrong said he had adjusted the design of his mark since he received the letter from Starbucks. His mark now has a figure of a man which represents him inside the green circle, which also has a star and crescent and halal mark. The green colour derives from his Islamic religion.

Explaining the request for 3 million baht, Mr Damrong said that if Starbucks wanted him to stop using the mark, he would sell his business to the company for that amount.

Meanwhile, Mr Damrong said he would fight the case but he had no money to pay the requested compensation.

He says he sells his coffee drinks for only 20-30 baht each - about one-third of what Starbucks charges - and still has to care for his six children from his earnings.

Starbucks, which operates nearly 21,000 coffee shops in 62 countries, including 171 stores in Thailand, reported revenue of US$13.3 billion (412 billion baht) last year and a net profit of $1.38 billion.

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Act: a law passed by a country’s government - กฎหมาย

adjust: to change something slightly, especially to make it more correct, effective, or suitable - ปรับ

arbitration: the official process of settling an argument or a disagreement by somebody who is not involved อนุญาโตตุลาการ - อนุญาโตตุลาการ

arrest: (of the police or, in this case, soldiers) to take someone under control because they are believed to have committed a crime - จับกุม

background: the part of a picture, photograph or view behind the main objects, people, etc - ฉากหลัง, พื้นหลังภาพ

brand-name: of a well known name of a product, often indicating it is expensive - มียี่ห้อ

capital letters: written in big letters -

cart: a small vehicle with two or four wheels that you push or pull to transport large or heavy objects on - รถเข็นหรือรถลาก

chain: a group of businesses (restaurants, hotels, etc.) owned by the same company - บริษัทต่างๆที่อยู่ในเครือเดียวกัน

charge: a payment or fee for something - ค่า

claim: saying that something is true although it has not been proved and other people may not believe it - ข้ออ้าง ข้อกล่าวหา

compensation: money that someone receives because something bad has happened to them - เงินชดเชย

complaint: when someone says that something is wrong or not satisfactory - การบ่น, ข้อที่ไม่พอใจ

court: the place where legal trials take place and where crimes, etc. are judged - ศาล

crescent: a curved shape that is wide in the middle and pointed at the end, like the moon at certain times of the month - รูปทรงพระจันทร์เสี้ยว

criminal: relating to illegal acts - เกี่ยวกับอาชญากรรม

decline: to say politely that you will not accept something or do something - ปฏิเสธที่จะทำ 

defendant: someone who has been accused of a crime and is on trial - จำเลย

demand: a very firm request for something - ข้อเรียกร้อง, การเรียกร้อง

derive from: to get something from something else - ได้มาจาก

earnings: the profit that a company makes - กำไร, ผลกำไร, รายได้

feature: to include someone or something as an important part - ทำให้เด่น

fee: an amount of money that you pay to be allowed to do something - ค่าธรรมเนียม

figure: a shape, especially of a person - รูปร่าง, รูปทรง

file a complaint: to make an official statement that someone has done something wrong - ยื่นคำร้อง

file a petition: to formally give a document signed by many people to someone in power asking them to do something - ยื่นคำร้อง

financial: involving money - เกี่ยวกับเงิน, ทางการเงิน

global: throughout the world - ทั่วโลก

ignore: to fail to pay attention to; to pretend that you have not noticed or do not know about something - เพิกเฉย

injunction: an order form a court that prevents someone from doing something - คำสั่งคุ้มครองชั่วคราว, คำสั่งห้าม

intellectual property: something that someone has created or invented and that no one else is legally allowed to make, copy, or sell - ทรัพย์สินทางปัญญา

interest: the money that a bank or other financial company charges you when you borrow money, or the money it pays you when you keep money in an account - ดอกเบี้ย

international: connected with or involving two or more countries - นานาชาติ, สากล, ระหว่างประเทศ

legal: relating to the law or lawyers - เกี่ยวกับกฎหมาย

logo: a printed design or symbol that a company or an organization uses as its special sign - โลโก้, เครื่องหมาย

mark: a small area on a surface of something - รอย

mermaid: a creature with a woman's head and body, and a fish's tail instead of legs - นางเงือก

misunderstanding: a situation in which a comment, an instruction, etc. is not understood correctly - ความเข้าใจผิด

net: to earn a particular amount of money after taxes or other costs have been removed - ได้กำไรสุทธิ

nickname: an informal name for someone or something, especially a name which you are called by your friends or family, usually based on your proper name or your character - ชื่อเล่น

operate: to carry out an activity like running a business - ดำเนินการ

order: to use your position of authority to tell somebody to do something or say that something must happen - สั่ง

petition: a request of someone in authority to do something - คำร้อง

position: to put somebody/something in a particular place or position - จัดวาง, วางที่, วางตำแหน่ง

profit: money that you make from selling goods and services after all your costs have been paid - กำไร

proposal: a plan or suggestion for a group to consider - ข้อเสนอ

public: open to people in general; intended to be seen or heard by people in general - อย่างเปิดเผยให้รู้

publicly: intending to be seen or heard by people in general - อย่างเปิดเผย

push cart: a small vehicle with two or four wheels that you push to transport large or heavy objects on - รถเข็น

register: to put your name and other information on an official list in order to be allowed to do something, e.g., vote, study, stay in a hotel etc - ลงทะเบียน

reject: to not accept something - ปฏิเสธ ไม่ยอมรับ

represent: to be an example or expression of something - แสดงให้เห็น, เป็นเครื่องหมายของ

revenue: income from taxes or business activities - รายได้

scheme: a system for organising or arranging information - ระบบ, ระเบียบ

similar: like somebody/something but not exactly the same - คล้ายกัน

sticker: a sticky label (paper, plastic, etc.) with a picture or message on it, that you stick onto something - สติ๊กเกอร์

trade: the buying and selling of goods and services - การค้าขาย

trademark: a name, symbol or design that a company uses for its products and that cannot be used by anyone else - เครื่องหมายการค้า

trial: the process of examining a case in a court of law and deciding whether someone has or has not committed a crime - การพิจารณาคดี

vendor: someone who sells something, but often not in a shop - พ่อค้าแม่ค้าแผงลอย

violation: an action that is goes against a law, agreement, principle, etc. - การกระทำผิดกฎหมาย

warning: an action or statement telling someone of a possible problem or danger - คำเตือน, การเตือน

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