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'Dumb Starbucks' Parody Cafe Opens in California

'Dumb Starbucks' Parody Cafe Opens in California

Parody coffee shop is nearly identical to a real Starbucks

The Dumb Starbucks menu board offers "dumb iced coffee" and "dumb Frappuccinos."

It is usually pretty difficult to mistake a Starbucks for any other coffee shop. Between the green awnings and logo cups, all the chain’s paraphernalia are pretty obviously associated with Starbucks and Starbucks alone. But now a challenger has appeared to test Starbucks with a “parody” coffee shop called "Dumb Starbucks" in the Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles. The Dumb Starbucks is virtually identical to a normal Starbucks, the only difference is that everything has the word “dumb” in front of it. Whether this turns out to be a clever idea or a profoundly dumb one remains to be seen.

According to Gawker, the store actually says it is legal to run the Dumb Starbucks because of parody law. “By adding the word ‘dumb’, we are technically ‘making fun’ of Starbucks, which allows us to use their trademarks under a law known as ‘fair use,’” explains a list of frequently asked questions posted at the Dumb Starbucks location.

The location does serve coffee, though. The menu board lists dumb iced coffee, dumb iced lemonade, and dumb Frappuccinos among the offerings.
“Although we are a fully functioning coffee shop, for legal reasons Dumb Starbucks needs to be categorized as a work of parody art,” the FAQ explains. “So, in the eyes of the law, our ‘coffee shop’ is actually an art gallery and the ‘coffee’ you’re buying is considered the art.”

The store is running a twitter account that already has over 2,000 followers and people have been willing to wait in line for over an hour for a “dumb coffee,” which the shop is rumored to be giving away for free.

Dumb Starbucks Mystery Solved: Comic Owner Stands Behind “Parody Law”

Plenty of buzz surrounded a mysterious “Dumb Starbucks Coffee” cafe that opened in southern California over the weekend.

What has happened since should get the attention of every business owner. It reveals the potential power and influence of viral marketing and the importance of protecting a brand’s identity.

The coffee shop, almost a dead ringer for Starbucks, started serving free coffee on Saturday and Sunday at a strip mall in Los Feliz, Calif., a suburb of Los Angeles. The only marketing was a tweet from the coffee shop’s own account:

We’re now open for business! Visit us at 1802 Hillhurst Ave in Los Angeles.

— Dumb Starbucks (@dumbstarbucks) February 7, 2014

Based on photos posted online by visitors, the outside and inside of the cafe seemed almost identical to a Starbucks. The only difference was the addition of the word “Dumb” in front of the brand’s iconic name. Products were similarly named: Dumb Venti, Dumb Espresso, Dumb Tea, Dumb Norah Jones “Duets” CDs, etc.

At its busiest, people were lined up outside for more than an hour to get a free cup of coffee. And the coffee wasn’t even that good, according to some customers who talked to inquisitive local reporters.

As it operated throughout the weekend, speculation grew about who might be behind the cafe. Employees said they were hired via Craigslist and didn’t know the owners. There was also question whether this was a legitimate business or some kind of prank. How could it be legal to run a business that was essentially a rip off of such a popular brand?

Starbucks told the press at the time that the company was still investigating its legal options.

In an FAQ sheet prominently displayed inside the store, the unknown owners said they were operating under the protection of “parody law.” At a press conference Monday, the person behind the business/hoax, take-your-pick, was revealed to be Canadian comedian Nathan Fielder, who has his own show on Comedy Central:

In the end, it’s unclear whether Fielder really considers his Dumb Starbucks Coffee a prank or a real business, insisting he plans to open another location in Brooklyn.

But in the end, it wasn’t Starbucks that got Fielder. It was the Los Angeles County Health Department, who shut the coffee shop down on Monday for not having the proper permits.

What Chinese Carmakers Can Learn From Dumb Starbucks

Right around the corner from my house, Dumb Starbucks opened up. And it's practically all I've heard about all weekend. This was a bit alarming to me, as I'm accustomed to being the subject whenever "dumb" was discussed in my neighborhood. Like most people, I think there's a lesson here for Chinese carmakers.

"Dumb Starbucks" Coffee Store Opens in California

It seems like every other day some dumb Starbucks or other is opening up on every block, but…

First, I probably better go over really quickly what this place is for those of you not keeping up with the latest developments in the fake/knockoff-coffeeshop world. Friday, seemingly out of nowhere, this coffee shop opened, looking an awful lot like a Starbucks. An awful lot. As in the same decor, color scheme, menu, sign and logo, but all of these with one key addition: the word "dumb" precedes everything. So, it's Dumb Starbucks where you go in the Dumb Door and order a Dumb Tall Mocha Allanté Latte or whatever from the Dumb Barista.

I think the coffee was being given away for free this weekend — I'm not totally sure, because when I went by there was a line around the block and I don't really drink coffee, anyway. What they're doing is clearly meant to be provocative in some way, and a sign suggests they think they can do this because of "parody law."

They're comparing what they're doing to Weird Al Yankovic's parody songs — they say they're parodying Starbucks by appending that "dumb" everywhere. Realistically, I don't think that's how the law actually works, since it's more trademark law than copyright they're dealing with, and a functioning coffee shop that literally just sells coffee is more of a clone than a parody. I'm sure Starbucks will be sending some cease-and-desists soon.

Still, no matter what happens, they're getting a lot of attention . And while it's unclear why they're doing this, or even who is doing it (promo for a TV show? wealthy mischievous loon? some art project?) the end result is they're being talked about and the store is being visited. If, say, this was some new coffee shop's way of getting people in to sample their product and once they get that cease-and-desist from Starbucks they'll drop the act and just call themselves Dumb Coffee or whatever, they've managed to circumvent the difficulty of any new business in getting people aware and interested.

So what does this have to do with cars? Especially Chinese ones?

Okay, okay, with the questions, already. I'm getting to that. Here's the thing: Chinese cars get attention in the US for two primary things: poor quality and shameless knockoffs. Eventually, China will want to sell cars in America. And they will have a hell of a time overcoming those two primary stereotypes. People either think of scary videos of Brillances liquifying in crash tests or hilariously close clones of Rolls Royces and Smart cars made by Chinese companies.

Dumb Starbucks May Need Really Smart Lawyers To Stay Open

It may not be easy for Dumb Starbucks, a parody Starbucks coffee shop that opened its doors on Friday in Los Feliz, to stay open. Starbucks has spoken out about their patented trademark but attorneys say Dumb Starbucks will likely face an "uphill battle" to stay open.

From the logo to the menu, Dumb Starbucks, located at 1802 Hillhurst Avenue, looks nearly identical to the real thing, except for the word "dumb" inserted before everything. Lines poured outside the door and around the block over the weekend as the shop served free coffee and pastries bought from Vons to excited patrons (including actor Rainn Wilson).

The owners claim in their FAQ that they're protected by fair use law since they are technically "making fun" of Starbucks by calling everything "dumb" and that they are legally categorized as a "work of parody art." The FAQ says, "So, in the eyes of the law, our 'coffee shop' is actually an art gallery and the 'coffee' you're buying is considered the art."

Although Starbucks told TMZ that they do find the parody funny (um, sure. ), they said, "they cannot use our name, which is a protected trademark."

Greg Sitrick, an intellectual property attorney at Quarles & Brady, tells LAist that although Dumb Starbucks has an argument for parody law, they will most likely be facing some major challenges. Dumb Starbucks makes the claim that they are protected under the same parody law Weird Al Yankovic is protected under for his parody songs. However, Sitrick says Yankovic asks for permission to create his songs and at the end of the day, there is no confusion as to whether or not he's making a parody. It's a different story for Dumb Starbucks.

Dumb Starbucks and the real Starbucks are competing in the same space of the coffee shop market. If Dumb Starbucks was actually an art gallery or something completely different like a record store, then it would be a different story. Sitrick questions if someone who drives on the road past Dumb Starbucks would immediately recognize the shop as something other than an actual Starbucks store.

"They have an argument and that argument has played out in plenty of other cases," Sitrick says. "I just think they have an uphill battle because they are in the same space. Their [logo is] so close to the logo Starbucks is using and it's difficult to tell what the parody is."

Some have been speculating that this is part of a marketing ploy. Others are wondering if comedian Rainn Wilson and Community's Dan Harmon are in on it since they were among the first people to take to social media about it.

Who knows though? Dumb Starbucks may have just started a revolution of parody restaurant names. Like take this hilarious one we wish were real:

‘Dumb Starbucks’ a work of parody art, or a ‘dumb’ idea?

Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts? That is usually the question that is asked among frequent coffee drinkers. In Southern California the question was Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts or Dumb Starbucks?

That’s right, you read that correctly. Dumb Starbucks.

Dumb Starbucks was a small parody coffee shop in Los Angeles. The coffee shop looked so much like a regular Starbucks, from menu options to sizes to the logo on the front of the store. The only difference, the word ‘dumb’ was in front of everything.

“Dumb Iced Coffee”, “Dumb Brewed Coffee”, “Dumb Tall, Dumb Grande, and Dumb Venti” are only some of the few things offered at Dumb Starbucks.

This bizarre imitation coffee shop was open at 1802 Hillhurst Avenue and they thanked the “parody law” according to their Frequently Asked Questions list.

According to the list, “By adding the word ‘dumb’ we are technically making fun of Starbucks, which allows us to use their trademarks under a law known as ‘fair use.’”

The list continues to explain that they are in fact a functioning coffee shop, and for legal reasons they categorize Dumb Starbucks as a work of parody art. Except that is something that their lawyers needed to worry about they say the only thing the customers need to do is enjoy their coffee.

Dumb Starbucks claim they look up to Starbucks as role models, but the only way they could use their logos for marketing purposes was to add the word ‘dumb’. They called it a necessity. They say they are not affiliated at all with Starbucks.

Dumb Starbucks then flooded social media. If you search the hashtag ‘#dumbstarbucks’ on Instagram over 2,000 posts are found. The twitter account has over 15.5 thousand followers.

Nathan Fielder, the founder of Dumb Starbucks, made a YouTube video explaining what Dumb Starbucks was. Toward the end of the video he says “Many of you probably know me as a comedian, but this is no bit or joke. This is a real business I plan to get rich from.”

According to USA Today the Los Angeles Health Department shut down Dumb Starbucks after Fielder revealed that he was behind the parody. ABC 7 of Los Angeles said it was shut down for being open without a valid public health permit.

I myself am not a huge Starbucks fan. I always quote the shirts “Friends don’t let friends drink Starbucks”. I would much rather go to Dunkin Donuts. I think Dumb Starbucks is just plain dumb. Obviously they are getting away with this because of the ‘parody law’. My question is how do they get away with using all of Starbucks menu items as well as their logo?

There have been rumors that Fielder is going to try to open another branch in Brooklyn, NY. Do you think this is going to happen? Do you think Dumb Starbucks is going to continue to sell “Dumb Vanilla Blonde Roasts” and “Dumb Iced Café Mocha”? I’ve asked myself, is this a smart way to make a lot of money fast, or a fast way to become broke because of a lawsuit that may come because of this. A question I will now ask you is, If a new branch opens in Brooklyn, will you go and buy a nice hot cup of dumb coffee or will you just say its dumb and walk away?

Karissa is a Senior majoring in TV/Radio Production. Writing hasn't always been her calling but within the last couple years she has found a passion for.

'Dumb Starbucks' Opens Up In Los Angeles

A new "Starbucks" has opened up in Los Angeles. Ordinarily, that wouldn't be news, but this isn't an ordinary Starbucks -- it's plain old dumb.

In Los Angeles neighborhood Los Feliz, a coffee shop named "Dumb Starbucks" opened over the weekend. Everything is a mirror image of the regular Starbucks, except the two aren't affiliated.

How did they get away with the concept without being sued? Parody law.

According to their FAQ, which was posted on Forbes, “Although we are a fully functioning coffee shop, for legal reasons Dumb Starbucks needs to be categorized as a work of parody art. So, in the eyes of the law, our 'coffee shop' is actually an art gallery and the 'coffee' you’re buying is considered the art. But that’s for our lawyers to worry about. All you need to do is enjoy our delicious coffee!”

"Dumb Starbucks" looks like the real thing, has the same logo and even sells the same drinks as the real thing, only with the word "dumb" placed in front -- a loophole which they believe protects them from legal issues under parody law, CBS Los Angeles notes. The real Starbucks told KCAL9′s Cristy Fajardo that the company was looking into the situation.

According to one patron, the lines to get into the "Dumb" coffee shop are up to an hour long -- and the coffee isn't nearly as good as the real thing. "This is pretty awful,” an unnamed patron told KCAL9 of their latte.

Here are people waiting to get into the coffee shop:

"Dumb Starbucks" art gallery in Los Feliz calls itself fair use, has long coffee lines. Photo credit: @lisaborodkin

— Lisa Borodkin (@lisaborodkin) February 9, 2014

Advertising ploy or pop art piece? Either way, there's a big dumb crowd. #dumbstarbucks #smartbanksy?

— Andrew Rutledge (@jandrewrutledge) February 9, 2014

And here's the drink menu. Guess we'll see how long this lasts before Starbucks' lawyers get to it.

“Dumb Starbucks” Forced to Close After Owner Reveals Himself as Comedy Central Show Host

By Christina Cocca &bull Published February 10, 2014 &bull Updated on February 11, 2014 at 9:23 am

Could the whole "Dumb Starbucks" thing just be an elaborate publicity grab? The man behind the Los Angeles sensation that is "Dumb Starbucks" revealed himself on Monday as the star of a Comedy Central show who insists he is committed to his bizarre parody business model.

Nathan Fielder, star of "Nathan For You," stepped out as the CEO of the coffee shop and addressed camera crews and curious Angelenos Monday afternoon outside his uber-popular storefront dubbed "Dumb Starbucks."

But the limelight might be fading for the parody shop now that the LA County Department of Health Services has slapped the store with a notice of closure for operating without a valid public health permit.


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The store popped up seemingly out of nowhere in a Los Feliz strip center Feb. 7 in the storefront that once housed the now-defunct Gastronomico.

#DumbStarbucks was the top trending hashtag on Twitter in Los Angeles. The pop-up coffee shop took social media by storm as hundreds of Angelenos tweeted about their fascination with the "dumb" business, including some who waited in line for hours just to get a peek.

"As long as we're making fun of Starbucks, we're allowed to use their corporate identity," Fielder told the crowd.

Fielder's show, "Nathan For You," is a docu-reality comedy show in which Fielder uses his background in business to offer up new, non-traditional business strategies.

Despite the revelation of the Dumb Starbucks owner's comedy background, Fielder would not say whether the store was part of his show.

The show's slogan, "Real People. Real Business. Results Not Guaranteed" is in line with Dumb Starbucks' online fact sheet that maintains the store is, in fact, a real business.

But Fielder has been known to stage elaborate hoaxes, including a YouTube video showing a pig rescuing a baby goat -- which was actually staged with animal trainers and crew members. The video had more than 8 million views as of Monday.

The logo adorning the Dumb Starbucks storefront and coffee cups is that of the actual Starbucks, but with the word "dumb." The same protocol applies to the entire menu, down to the "dumb" tall, grande and venti sizes.

The imitation coffee chain, aware of its mind-boggling business model, claims its existence at 1802 Hillhurst Avenue is allowed thanks to "parody law" in a Frequently Asked Questions list posted via Twitter.

"By adding the word 'dumb,' we are technically 'making fun of Starbucks, which allows us to use their trademarks under a law known as 'fair use.'"

The FAQ goes on to explain, "Although we are a fully functioning coffee shop, for legal reasons, Dumb Starbucks needs to be categorized as a work of parody art . But that's for our lawyers to worry about. All you need to do is enjoy our delicious coffee!"

Confused yet curious consumers took to Twitter as they lined up outside the coffee shop in question on Saturday and Sunday.

"Are your dumb coffees still free today?" @LukeOneil47 asked.

"That does it, I'm opening a parody coffee shop called 'Not Dumb Starbucks," @Abobrow said.

"'It may be fake but the work is real' (overheard from the dumb Starbucks baristas),'" @TheBrockyRoad tweeted with a picture of an employee complete with a green apron and black hat with the logos for - you guessed it - Dumb Starbucks.

Fielder <a target="_blank" href="http://">explains in a YouTube video how he was able to market "Dumb Starbucks," and describes the stunt as "a real business I plan to get rich from." Watch below:

IP Legal Freebies Blog

Did you hear that a “DUMB STARBUCKS COFFEE” shop opened in California recently? (AND this fake parody was a comedian’s publicity stunt)(AND the shop has already been shut down by the LA County health inspectors)? In addition to branding the pop-up cafe with a mocked-up Starbucks logo that added the word “dumb” into the logo, the cafe also featured a virtually identical menu to Starbucks and added the word “dumb” onto the menu boards. (For example selling “Dumb Iced Espresso” in a “Dumb Tall” size cup).

How was this permissible? Short answer, it wasn’t. Parody was being claimed although this was not a parody. Folks often think that just because something is FUNNY it is legally a PARODY. This is a not the case. FUNNY ≠ PARODY. Because this is such a common assumption it’s worthwhile to mention it again (and again, and again). For a terrific analysis of the DUMB STARBUCKS parody claim see on my friend Ron’s blog (post written by Matthew David Brozik).

Not surprisingly, a spokeswoman for Starbucks Coffee said that despite the humor, the store cannot use the Starbucks name.

A few other interesting elements raised by this DUMB STARBUCKS parody claim:

A dumb idea? ‘Dumb Starbucks’ spoof serves Dumb Frappuccinos, with a lawsuit probably on the way

Even though the logo, the layout and the menu are almost identical to the caffeine behemoth, the shop has been launched to mock the global brand – and probably all of its devoted customers, too.

Inside, you can choose from Dumb Iced Coffees, Dumb Vanilla Lattes and Dumb Caramel Frappuccinos, in three dumb sizes.

You might expect Starbucks’s army of lawyers to be banging down the doors of this mysterious establishment in a heartbeat. However, the businessmen behind the shop insist the concept is entirely legal because it is intended as a parody.

A leaflet with frequently-asked questions inside the café says: ‘By adding the word “dumb”, we are technically “making fun” of Starbucks. [We are using] the same law that allows Weird Al Yankovic to use the music from Michael Jackson’s Beat It in his parody song, Eat It.’

When asked if it is a real business, the handout adds: ‘Yes, it is. Although we are a fully-functioning coffee shop, for legal reasons, Dumb Starbucks needs to be categorised as a work of parody art. So, in the eyes of the law, our “coffee shop” is actually an art gallery and the “coffee” you’re buying is considered the art. But that’s for our lawyers to worry about.’

A spokesman for the real Starbucks said the chain is looking into the spoof.

Since it popped up in California, rumours have been swirling as who is behind the idea. Some believe it might be a piece of performance art intended for a TV show.

The two baristas behind the counter, who had been rushing around to serve dozens of customers all day, said they didn’t have a clue who launched the shop.

In between pouring Dumb Chai Tea Lattes, the pair said they only turned up after replying to an ad asking for help on Craigslist.

A roaring trade continues at the store today. Its CDs, including Dumb Jazz Standards, Dumb Norah Jones Duets and Dumb Taste Of Cuba, are believed to be particularly popular.

'Dumb Starbucks' Parody Cafe Opens in California - Recipes

Comedy Central's Nathan Fielder set a high bar during the first season of Nathan For You when his video of a pig saving a drowning goat went viral and made the rounds on news shows such as Good Morning America and Anderson Live. But in the fifth episode of season two, Fielder's latest business scheme turns him into an international celebrity.

The episode starts with Fielder pitching a bizarre marketing idea to Elias Zacklin, the owner of a struggling coffee shop in East Hollywood, California called Helio Cafe.

"You don't have a brand that people recognize, but maybe there's a shortcut to having brand recognition using a little something called parody law," Fielder says. Used by Saturday Night Live and artists such as "Weird Al" Yankovic, parody law allows for the use of trademarks as long as the copyrighted material is being parodied.

The plan, Fielder explains, involves rebranding Helio Cafe as Dumb Starbucks, the world's first parody of the national coffee chain. Zacklin agrees to the idea, but ultimately backs out, leaving Fielder to start his parody coffee shop from the ground up. He finds an empty storefront in Los Feliz, California, and builds an exact replica of a Starbucks coffee shop.

After hiring two employees named Jeremiah and Amber--and conducting a brief employee orientation in which he explains the strict company policy regarding romantic relationships in the workplace--Fielder opens Dumb Starbucks and begins serving Dumb Espressos and Dumb Lattes in sizes such as Dumb Grande and Dumb Venti.

When customers ask whether the store has the required license to sell food and beverages, Fielder explains that, legally speaking, Dumb Starbucks is categorized as an art gallery.

"We don't want any of our customers to get sick, but if they do, technically that's part of the artistic experience," he says.

While the initial reaction from customers is tepid at best, Dumb Starbucks quickly turns into something of a media sensation. When this stunt occurred, TV crews appeared and lines went around the block. Rumors started flying that anonymous street artist Banksy was behind the "art installation." Fielder even lands a guest appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live and announces plans for an additional Dumb Starbucks to open in (naturally!) Brooklyn.

Unfortunately, Fielder runs into trouble when the health inspector forces him to close due to the fact that Dumb Starbucks lacks the proper permits. Rather than fight the local health department, Fielder decides to cut his losses and close Dumb Starbucks for good.

Although exploiting the legal loophole surrounding parody law technically allowed Fielder to accomplish his goal of building brand awareness fast, as usual, his marketing stunt has a short shelf life. The genius of Dumb Starbucks, it seems, may have only been good for 15 minutes of fame.

But in these days of iPhones sprouting from every other hand and widespread Web-enabled attention-deficit disorder, 15 minutes of fame can seem like a lifetime. Or at least it seems that way while it lasts.

ɽumb Starbucks Coffee' brews up controversy: Will the real Starbucks soon stand up?

Dumb Starbucks Coffee opened in L.A. over the weekend, clearly mocking Starbucks. How long can it stay open?

A new coffee shop in Southern California is about to find out how far parody laws will take them.

Dumb Starbucks Coffee opened over the weekend in the Los Feliz neighborhood of L.A. The store is very similar to Starbucks, the nationwide caffeine dispensary, but it puts the word "Dumb" in front of everything.

According to USA Today, Dumb Starbucks menu features Dumb Espressos, Dumb Frappucinos and other popular drink items in sizes of dumb tall, dumb grande and dumb venti. They even offer fake CDs by "Nora Jones" and a "Dumb Jazz Standards" music compilation.

The storefront, located at 1802 Hillhurst Ave in Los Angeles, also uses the famous mermaid logo with the words "Dumb Starbucks Coffee" written around it. The same image appears on the cups of Dumb Starbucks Coffee given for free to the many who waited in line. At one point, Twitter users complained on Sunday the wait was two hours long.

But if they're not selling drinks, what's the point? Are they just trying to stick it to a corporate brand?

The Independent suggests the satirical shop is one of three things: performance art, a TV stunt, or just a legal dispute waiting to happen. One customer told a local television station they saw a "camera in the espresso machine," suggesting it's for a reality TV show.

The Daily Mail reports Dumb Starbucks posted a notice defending their name as fair use under U.S. parody law, comparing it to "Weird Al" Yankovic's popular joke songs like "Eat It." The law states certain parodies of trademarks are permissible if not too directly tied to commercial use -- so far, Dumb Starbucks isn't charging for its drinks -- and protected under the First Amendment as artistic expression.

"We are simply using [Starbucks'] name and logo for marketing purposes," the shop claimed. "By adding the word ɽumb' we are technically 'making fun' of Starbucks, which allows us to use their trademarks under a law known as ⟺ir use.'"

The Los Angeles Times adds Dumb Starbucks is considering itself a work of parody art: "In the eyes of the law, our ɼoffee shop' is actually an art gallery and the ɼoffee' you're buying is considered the art."

A spokesperson for the real Starbucks told The Hollywood Reporter that the mock store has no affiliation with the Seattle-based chain and is "looking into" the matter.

Watch the video: Nathan For You - Dumb Starbucks - Legal Advice (November 2021).