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Mr. Damrong Musleh, AKA ‘Bung’ is the owner of a street side coffee kiosk called ‘Starbung’ that he runs with his brother, Mr. Damras. The brothers have been in a yearlong dispute with global coffee superpower Starbucks that has now escalated to a lawsuit.
In a court document, Starbucks has sued the owners of Starbung on the grounds that they have violated the plaintiff′s Copyright Trademark and have demanded more than THB 300,000 in compensation, that will include annual interest of 7.5% as well as demanding that he stop trading under the controversial trademark and furthermore, they have demanded a further 30,000 baht for each month he continues to use the logo from the date the lawsuit was issued.
In the court filing, Starbucks state they have attempted to negotiate with Mr. Damrong but he had refused to change the logo, and even went on to sell mugs and t-shirts bearing the contested logo. They have also alleged that Mr. Damrong has previously tried to negotiate a THB 3,000,000 payoff from Starbucks with their lawyers in exchange for him to cease trading under his current logo, the offer was refused.
Starbucks have claimed that the violated logo has “damaged trust and loyalty the customers had towards the brand”, that misleads unsuspecting customers into thinking that Starbung is a legitimate branch of Starbucks.
In October last year, Manager ASTV also reported that the Thai Intellectual Properties Department had instructed Mr. Damrong, whose coffee stall operates in front of Baan Pra Arthit building near the backpacker street of Khaosarn Road, to stop using his logo, citing requests from Starbucks.
The report quoted the Musleh as saying that “we did not violate anything. They should not busy themselves with a small vendor like us, who only makes several hundred baht a day, I′m not free to negotiate with them anywhere. If they want to talk, they can come here and talk at my stall in front of Baan Pra Arthit. If they want my logo, they can buy it, so we can finally end this.”
Mr. Damrong maintains that the logo was designed in accordance with his Muslim belief, as it contains Islamic symbols such as the star, the moon, and a small halal stamp.
The name ′Bung′ is derived from Malaysian word for ′Brother′ and a common Thai slang for Muslims, Mr. Damrong insisted. As for the prominent green background. the Starbung owner argued that it represents a religious colour in Islamic belief.
He also dismissed the claim that he had attempted to extort THB 3,000,000 from Starbucks, explaining that he meant he would gladly sell the stall, along with the logo, to the company under that amount.
In the news report. he affirmed that he will not pay the THB 300,000 compensation and said that he has six children to raise, but only makes THB 20-30 per cup in his stall. “My annual income is much less that Starbuck’s daily earnings” said Mr. Damrong.