Starbucks Doesn't Have Grounds To Stop Charbucks

An appeals court ruled last week that Starbucks can't block a micro roaster's use of the name Charbucks. The court says consumers won't be confused by a "blurring" of the brands.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And that brings us to our last word in business this morning. The word is: Charbucks.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Not Starbucks.

MONTAGNE: No, Charbucks. The term is something of a dig at the coffee chain, which some accuse of over-roasting its famously dark cups of joe. So when a small New Hampshire brewer started making a darker than usual roast, it used that name, Charbucks, and this got the attention of its much larger rival.

INSKEEP: Starbucks didn't seem to like the attention, and sued Black Bear Micro Roastery back in 2001, arguing the Charbucks label would confuse consumers and dilute Starbucks' more recognizable brand. Now we can report the legal saga has wrapped up. An appeals court says consumers will not be confused by a blurring of the brands.

MONTAGNE: Charbucks can continue to be sold.

INSKEEP: And Starbucks, we're told, just doesn't have the grounds to stop it.

That's the business news on MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

MONTAGNE: And I'm Renee Montagne.

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