Dumb Starbucks the Parody Coffee House/Art Shop

How does a company get away with using the name and logo of another business to compete against that business? By adding the word “dumb” to the beginning and calling it a parody.

In an interesting legal loophole, the proprietors of Dumb Starbucks Coffee have taken an exception to U.S. copyright law meant to protect comedic art and turned it into a business. That Dumb Starbucks recognizes this is clear from an excerpt from their frequently asked questions:

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.

I’m not sure of the value of building a business around “delicious coffee” and then describing your “coffee” with quotation marks, but they have certainly successfully garnered some attention.

For more, read this article in Forbes:

‘Dumb Starbucks’ In Los Angeles Tests Parody Laws As Coffee Lovers Laugh


Zachariah B. Parry is an attorney and founding partner at the law firm Parry & Pfau and is an adjunct professor who teaches torts, contracts, and Nevada practice and procedure for UNLV’s paralegal program. He can be reached at 702-912-4451 or zach@p2lawyers.com.