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Starbucks Coffee v.
Sardarbuksh Coffee
Aniruddha Bamal
© All Rights Reserved
Plaintiff: Starbucks Corporation
- A global coffeehouse chain known for its signature beverages and
branding.
Defendant: Sardarbuksh Coffee Co. and Ors.
- An Indian coffee shop chain established in 2015, with a name and
logo resembling Starbucks.
Citation: Starbucks Corporation v. Sardarbuksh Coffee & Co. &
Ors., on August 1, 2018, CS (COMM) 1007/2018
In the Presence of:- Justice Manmohan of the Delhi High Court.
© All Rights Reserved
Facts of the
Case
Starbucks is a globally-known coffee company,
famous for providing coffee and coffee-related
products across the world. It registered its logo
and name under the word mark “STARBUCKS”
in India in 2001 in accordance with the
Trademark Act of 1999,
In 2015, the defendants, Sardarbuksh Coffee &
Co., commenced their business operations in
India under the name "Sardarbuksh Coffee &
Co." The defendants' business model was in the
same industry as Starbucks, involving the sale
of coffee and related products.
© All Rights Reserved
Sardarbuksh Coffee & Co. adopted a logo that featured
the face of a turban commander surrounded by a circular
black band with wavy lines on the sides. This logo was
prominently displayed in their branding and marketing
materials.
In response to Sardarbuksh Coffee & Co.'s use of the
word “SARDARBUKSH” and a logo that bore similarities to
Starbucks' registered trademark, Starbucks issued a
demand letter to the defendants in 2017.
© All Rights Reserved
Logo of Starbucks Corp. Logo of Sardarbuksh Coffee Co.
© All Rights Reserved
In a response to Starbucks' demand,
Sardarbuksh Coffee & Co. made only
minor alterations to their logo, primarily
changing the colour scheme to black and
yellow. Despite this alteration, the
overall design and elements of the logo
remained substantially similar to
Starbucks' trademark.
© All Rights Reserved
Trademark Infringement: Whether Sardarbuksh Coffee's name and logo
infringed upon Starbucks Coffee's registered trademarks.
Passing Off: Whether Sardarbuksh Coffee's actions constituted passing
off, i.e., misleading consumers into believing that their products or
services were associated with or endorsed by Starbucks Coffee.
© All Rights Reserved
Judgement
Initial Order (August 2018):
The Delhi High Court, under Justice Manmohan,
issued an interim order.
Sardarbuksh is required to use "Sardarji-Bakhsh
Coffee & Co." for new outlets and existing
Sardarbuksh outlets are allowed temporary use of
their current name.
Final Settlement (September 27, 2018):
Sardarbuksh agreed to rename all outlets to "Sardarji-
Bakhsh Coffee & Co.” and retained the right to sue for
trademark infringement on the term "Bakhsh" in the
future.
© All Rights Reserved
Section 2(1)(h) of the Trademarks Act, 1999:
“deceptively similar”.—A mark shall be deemed to be deceptively similar to
another mark if it so nearly resembles that other mark as to be likely to deceive
or cause confusion;”
Section 11(1) of the Trademark Act, 1999
This section deals with grounds for refusing trademark registration. In this
case, it would be relevant to Section 11(1) which states that registration can be
refused if a trademark is identical or deceptively like an earlier registered
trademark for similar goods or services.
© All Rights Reserved
Citation: AIR 1953 SC 357
In this case, it was held that deceptive similarity could only be determined by
stepping into the customer’s shoes under the presumption that he is a man
with ordinary intelligence. If the customer feels confused while differentiating
between the two brands, they can be deemed deceptively similar.
© All Rights Reserved
Protecting Brand Identity: Explore legal aspects of trademarks to see how
companies can secure their brands.
Consumer and Similar Brands: Investigate how consumers tell similar brands
apart and how it affects their choices.
Legal Limits of Similarity: Analyze court cases on trademark infringement to
understand legal boundaries for brand design.
Enforcing Trademark Rights: Study how trademark laws are enforced and how
disputes are resolved to improve legal protection.
© All Rights Reserved
© All Rights Reserved

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Starbucks Corp. v. Sardarbuksh Coffee Co.

  • 1. Starbucks Coffee v. Sardarbuksh Coffee Aniruddha Bamal © All Rights Reserved
  • 2. Plaintiff: Starbucks Corporation - A global coffeehouse chain known for its signature beverages and branding. Defendant: Sardarbuksh Coffee Co. and Ors. - An Indian coffee shop chain established in 2015, with a name and logo resembling Starbucks. Citation: Starbucks Corporation v. Sardarbuksh Coffee & Co. & Ors., on August 1, 2018, CS (COMM) 1007/2018 In the Presence of:- Justice Manmohan of the Delhi High Court. © All Rights Reserved
  • 3. Facts of the Case Starbucks is a globally-known coffee company, famous for providing coffee and coffee-related products across the world. It registered its logo and name under the word mark “STARBUCKS” in India in 2001 in accordance with the Trademark Act of 1999, In 2015, the defendants, Sardarbuksh Coffee & Co., commenced their business operations in India under the name "Sardarbuksh Coffee & Co." The defendants' business model was in the same industry as Starbucks, involving the sale of coffee and related products. © All Rights Reserved
  • 4. Sardarbuksh Coffee & Co. adopted a logo that featured the face of a turban commander surrounded by a circular black band with wavy lines on the sides. This logo was prominently displayed in their branding and marketing materials. In response to Sardarbuksh Coffee & Co.'s use of the word “SARDARBUKSH” and a logo that bore similarities to Starbucks' registered trademark, Starbucks issued a demand letter to the defendants in 2017. © All Rights Reserved
  • 5. Logo of Starbucks Corp. Logo of Sardarbuksh Coffee Co. © All Rights Reserved
  • 6. In a response to Starbucks' demand, Sardarbuksh Coffee & Co. made only minor alterations to their logo, primarily changing the colour scheme to black and yellow. Despite this alteration, the overall design and elements of the logo remained substantially similar to Starbucks' trademark. © All Rights Reserved
  • 7. Trademark Infringement: Whether Sardarbuksh Coffee's name and logo infringed upon Starbucks Coffee's registered trademarks. Passing Off: Whether Sardarbuksh Coffee's actions constituted passing off, i.e., misleading consumers into believing that their products or services were associated with or endorsed by Starbucks Coffee. © All Rights Reserved
  • 8. Judgement Initial Order (August 2018): The Delhi High Court, under Justice Manmohan, issued an interim order. Sardarbuksh is required to use "Sardarji-Bakhsh Coffee & Co." for new outlets and existing Sardarbuksh outlets are allowed temporary use of their current name. Final Settlement (September 27, 2018): Sardarbuksh agreed to rename all outlets to "Sardarji- Bakhsh Coffee & Co.” and retained the right to sue for trademark infringement on the term "Bakhsh" in the future. © All Rights Reserved
  • 9. Section 2(1)(h) of the Trademarks Act, 1999: “deceptively similar”.—A mark shall be deemed to be deceptively similar to another mark if it so nearly resembles that other mark as to be likely to deceive or cause confusion;” Section 11(1) of the Trademark Act, 1999 This section deals with grounds for refusing trademark registration. In this case, it would be relevant to Section 11(1) which states that registration can be refused if a trademark is identical or deceptively like an earlier registered trademark for similar goods or services. © All Rights Reserved
  • 10. Citation: AIR 1953 SC 357 In this case, it was held that deceptive similarity could only be determined by stepping into the customer’s shoes under the presumption that he is a man with ordinary intelligence. If the customer feels confused while differentiating between the two brands, they can be deemed deceptively similar. © All Rights Reserved
  • 11. Protecting Brand Identity: Explore legal aspects of trademarks to see how companies can secure their brands. Consumer and Similar Brands: Investigate how consumers tell similar brands apart and how it affects their choices. Legal Limits of Similarity: Analyze court cases on trademark infringement to understand legal boundaries for brand design. Enforcing Trademark Rights: Study how trademark laws are enforced and how disputes are resolved to improve legal protection. © All Rights Reserved
  • 12. © All Rights Reserved

Editor's Notes

  1. The demand letter requested the defendants to change their name and logo to avoid any confusion or association with Starbucks.
  2. Due to the ongoing use of a logo that was deemed deceptively similar to Starbucks' trademark and the continued operation under a name closely resembling Starbucks, the plaintiff, Starbucks, filed a lawsuit against Sardarbuksh Coffee & Co. in the Hon'ble High Court of Delhi
  3. The primary issue in the case revolved around whether Sardarbuksh's name and logo were deceptively similar to Starbucks, potentially infringing on Starbucks' trademark rights. The case raised questions about trademark infringement under Section 2(1)(h) and Section 11 of the Trademark Act of 1999, focusing on the similarity between the marks, the goods and services provided, and the likelihood of confusion among consumers.
  4. After a thorough examination of the evidence and legal arguments, the Delhi High Court presided over by Justice Manmohan, ruled in favor of Starbucks. The court found that Sardarbuksh's name and logo were deceptively similar to Starbucks, violating Starbucks' trademark rights. As a result, the court directed Sardarbuksh to change its brand name to "Sardarji-Bakhsh Coffee & Co." for its upcoming outlets. The existing outlets were allowed to retain the Sardarbuksh branding until the final verdict. The court's decision emphasized the importance of protecting trademark rights and preventing deceptive similarities that could confuse consumers.