Dumb Starbucks in L.A. shut down

Dumb Starbucks in L.A. shut down

Credit: PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)

Customers queue for coffee at Starbucks Coffee inside the Dulles International Airport

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by JOLIE LEE / USA TODAY Network

NWCN.com

Posted on February 11, 2014 at 7:17 AM

Updated Tuesday, Feb 11 at 7:17 AM

UPDATE: Late Monday afternoon, the Los Angeles Health Department shut down Dumb Starbucks shortly after Comedy Central comedian Nathan Fielder revealed he was behind the parody Starbucks store. Follow USA TODAY for the latest updates.

Starbucks said it is considering how to proceed in response to a parody coffee shop called Dumb Starbucks.

The Dumb Starbucks store in Los Angeles is very similar to Starbucks except it has the word "dumb" in front of it.

In an email to USA TODAY Network on Monday, Starbucks said Dumb Starbucks is not affiliated with Starbucks.

"We are evaluating next steps and while we appreciate the humor, they cannot use our name, which is a protected trademark," according to Starbuck's email.

The majority of trademark disputes are "handled informally," according to Starbucks spokeswoman Laurel Harper in an email to the Associated Press.

The parody store says it is able to use the Starbucks name and logo because it is technically "making fun" of Starbucks and is considered "a work of parody art," according to a Dumb Starbucks letter.

The question is whether the word "dumb" sufficiently makes clear that the store is making fun of Starbucks and is not associated with Starbucks, said Mark McKenna, a law professor at the University of Notre Dame who specializes in trademark law.

"My gut tells me a court would be bothered by how much of the Starbucks trademark was used. It's not just the word but they also made the store look just like it," McKenna said in an interview with USA TODAY Network.

A Feb. 7 tweet from @DumbStarbucks announced the store was open at 1802 Hillhurst Ave. in Los Angeles.

A spokesman for Starbucks told the Wall Street Journal that Dumb Starbucks "obviously" has no affiliation with Starbucks.

A Starbucks spokesperson told KING 5 News the company is aware of the store's existence and is evaluating the next step. The spokesperson says Starbucks is a protected trademark and, therefore, cannot be used.

Inside the Dumb Starbucks, the menu also looks very similar to the Starbucks menu, with the word "dumb" in front of the items, such as "Dumb Espresso" and "Dumb Frappuccino."

The coffee sizes are dumb tall, dumb grande and dumb venti.

There were even "dumb" versions of the CDs sold at Dumb Starbucks.

According to tweets, people waited for an hour for their free Dumb Starbucks coffee.

It's unclear who is behind the coffee shop. Dumb Starbucks is able to use the Starbucks name and logo because it is technically "making fun" of Starbucks and is considered "a work of parody art," according to a Dumb Starbucks letter.

Under the law, Dumb Starbucks is not a coffee shop but an art gallery, the letter says. "The 'coffee' you're buying is considered the art," the letter says. "But that's for our lawyers to worry about. All you need to do is enjoy our delicious coffee!"

STORY: 'Dumb Starbucks' in Los Angeles tied to comedy duo

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