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Damrong Maslae AKA Bung the owner of the coffee cart in Bangkok’s Rattanakosin district called Starbung , has backed off from a legal fight with the American coffee giant, who filed a lawsuit last September against him.
In a court document, Starbucks are suing 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.
But now Damrong, has reportedly changed his logo from “Starbung Coffee” to “Stylebung Tea-Coffee” with a slight change of the color scheme. His new logo has been passed around social networks for two weeks, with many admiring the street vendor for his sneaky and free PR strategy.
Damrong and his brother failed to show up for trial yesterday at the Central Intellectual Property and International Trade Court for the arrest request by Starbucks for copyright dispute.
But Damrong’s lawyer was there to represent him and presented a photograph of the new Stylebung logo to the court. The photo, taken the day before the trial, seems to have protected Damrong and his brother from prison, as the court declined to arrest the defendants and will recall them for reconciliation between the two parties on Nov. 18.
However, the additional lawsuit Starbucks filed for violating Articles 109 and 110 of the Thai Trademark Act B.E.2534, which would require the coffee stall to pay damages of THB300,000 with 7.5% interest is still in play. The case is set to go on court on Feb. 10, 2014,