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Thread: KMart licensing Coffee Snobs name?

  1. #1
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    KMart licensing Coffee Snobs name?

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    After a recent post by Pamount I went to the kmart.com.au website and was shocked to see they sold "Official Coffee Snob" merchandise http://www.kmart.com.au/product/mug-...e-snob/2033342

    Of course I want to buy one because I imagine a large reputable company like Kmart wouldn't steal a registered name or logo (even though they have been caught doing that before especially with Tshirts) and wouldn't be so blatant. I am assuming all proceeds would go to fair crack?

    Obviously I may have been misled and I would suggest Andy ask for a large donation to fair crack if they have disregarded his dozen plus years of existing use, trademark, registered business names, etc. Even something for damage to your business? There are probably individuals on here who could draft a letter? Shocked if kmart.com.au has just stolen your years of hard work.

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    Andy, just wanted to say I was genuinely shocked by this - almost as much as as the Coffee Snobs solar lighting for Tanzania - as I thought Kmart was an unusual licensing partner for an artisan, roast on demand business.

    Of course the fact Kmart used the word official and then your registered company name led me to believe this was authorised by you. Happy to testify to all of the above.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Barry O'Speedwagon's Avatar
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    Guys, I'm not sure that there's much one can do about Kmart or anyone else selling a mug that says 'Official Coffee Snob'. Just google 'coffee snob mug' and go to the images tab. There's dozens of similar offerings all over the world. The phrase 'coffee snob' has been in use for some time.

    If someone were copy the fonts and styles that are used here, and / or made representations that the merchandise were associated with the site, particularly if the phrase 'coffee snobs' was used....that would be different.

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    Senior Member woodhouse's Avatar
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    1. different name (coffee snob vs coffeesnobs)
    2. different colour
    3. different font
    4. no logo
    5. 'official' used as an intensifier rather than a statement of authority

    not a rip-off. as barry pointed out, 'coffee snob' has been a thing long before this forum. whatever they're doing, they're not trying to ride andy's success for free.

  5. #5
    CoffeeSnobs Owner Andy's Avatar
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    Thanks for the heads-up but yeah, I already know about that one.

    In April a friend dropped around a couple of them...

    Kmart-Trademark-Infringement.jpg

    While it has become a reasonably common term I would like to think that prior to us having 48,000 CS members you wouldn't have found it in print anywhere.

    As for protecting the usage of our name, I've tried with very little success in the past.

    2004 - Domain name registered
    2007 - ABN registered
    2012 - Trademark registered
    2013 - PTY LTD registered

    The registered trademark is for the actual words "Coffee Snobs" but in theory that will also protect phonetic and singular versions of the words.
    https://search.ipaustralia.gov.au/tr...?q=coffee+snob

    Over the years we have had a crack at a couple of companies using our name (badly) and the result was $6000-$10000 out of my pocket for no change each time. The next step was $80,000-$100,000 to take it to court which I really couldn't second mortgage our home follow though (the initial layer fees were a big stretch without trying to find 10 times more!).

    1) Very large newsagent type chain of stores produced a "Coffee Snob Diary". They laughed at us when we told them they infringed our trademark.

    2) Huge chain of convenience stores (who sell crap coffee for under $2 a cup) wrote an ad campaign that in my opinion directly slandered "Coffee Snobs". I got legal advice, they sent a letter, the company said get stuffed and I paid the lawyer $6000. Coincidentally, they did stop using the ad but it was already on the internet and I think the damage was done. I was told it would be $80,000 odd to take it to court so I walked away with my tail between my legs. 6 month later I drove past a billboard on top of one of these convenience stores for "my" law firm... some choice words were thrown at my windscreen!


    3) Some snotty nosed brats in Melbourne produced a packaged iced coffee that plagiarised our registered trademark phonetically. I got legal advice who agreed that although it was spelled differently, it was pronounced the same and we had a case. Letters were drawn-up to both the company producing it and to the REALLY big supermarket chain that was distributing it. They both took months to act, made excuses that it was Christmas and a dog ate their homework before sending letters back saying "get stuffed, and if you make any more noise we will take your name from you". The company claimed they didn't know we existed yet a simple google search of their product name returned "Did you mean Coffee Snobs?" along with 400,000 indexed pages. Paid my new lawyers nearly $10,000 (for letters that I had to send back to them more than once for typo corrections) and they quoted $120,000 odd to take it to court with a "good chance of winning".


    4) Department store chain produces a coffee cup. A friend spots them and drops a couple around. I laugh, Paula swears and we both then shrug and say "not going through that again!".


    Moral of the story is, going through the process and expense of trademarking a name does very little to actually protect you if the people infringing are bigger than you. Sadly the little guy gets stepped on in the process that was designed to support them.
    noonar, magnafunk and 338 like this.

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    A real coffee snob wouldn't be drinking out of a 532ml mug!

  7. #7
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    Thanks for the background Andy, would make the same choices as you.


    Thanks Barry and Woodhouse. My thoughts were kmart has form in this area with photos and artwork on tshirts, my thinking was they googled something coffee related in Australia and as happens a Coffee Snobs thread came up, they thought it was just a forum, not someone's business and copied it.

  8. #8
    CoffeeSnobs Owner Andy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by herzog View Post
    A real coffee snob wouldn't be drinking out of a 532ml mug!
    Half a litre of Brazen brewed coffee is a great way to drive to work in the mornings.


    Quote Originally Posted by 338 View Post
    ...they googled something coffee related in Australia and as happens a Coffee Snobs thread came up, they thought it was just a forum, not someone's business and copied it.
    Very likely that's what happened. They are also big enough to be arrogant and don't require staffers to check for a trademark before production as they can afford better legal than me.

    ;-)

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    Senior Member Jackster's Avatar
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    Lawyers are the only winners.
    And they make sure they are paid first.
    Andy, Javaphile and cafelazio like this.

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    Can coffeesnobs sell "coffeesnobs cups" at https://www.cafepress.com.au/ It has a link in the top menu, towards the right, that says "Design Your Own"

    Is there a fee in doing that? Would it run foul of some lawyer?

  11. #11
    CoffeeSnobs Owner Andy's Avatar
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    Behmor Brazen - $249 - Free Freight
    Yeah, we can sell them.
    I might make Kmart, 7-11 and Schnobs ones too.



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