'Dumb Starbucks' Makes Parody Of Real Chain - FOX 29 News Philadelphia | WTXF-TV

'Dumb Starbucks' Makes Parody Of Real Chain; Shut Down

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It may look like a Starbucks, it may even smell like a Starbucks, but one store in Los Angeles is not a real Starbucks. Instead, it's "Dumb Starbucks," it has a "Dumb" logo, "Dumb" cups and even a "Dumb" menu. However, this publicity stunt is no more for the self-professed artist.

Over the weekend, you could order a Dumb Espresso, Latte and other drinks, in all the "Dumb sizes" of tall, grande and venti.

It was one big goof on the Starbucks culture, and a good way to market themselves.

On a note inside the store, the minds behind "Dumb Starbucks" called it a parody and compared it to Weird Al Yankovic and his Michael Jackson song parodies like "Eat It."

"By adding the word ‘dumb', we are technically 'making fun' of Starbucks, which allows us to use their trademarks under a law known as ‘fair use,'" the company explains in its FAQ.

Since opening in early February, the store has already gained more than 5,040 followers on twitter.

Starbucks quickly found the store and said on Monday that it's trying to contact the people responsible for a "Dumb Starbucks" store. The Seattle-based coffee chain told the Associated Press that its legal team was working on identifying the store's owner.

"We are aware of this store, and it is not affiliated with Starbucks," spokeswoman Laurel Harper said in an email Monday. "We are evaluating next steps, and while we appreciate the humor, they cannot use our name, which is a protected trademark."

She added that the vast majority of trademark disputes "are handled informally," suggesting the company will not need to take legal action.

One law professor suggested Dumb Starbucks needed to sharpen its legal theory.

"Fair use" can protect parodies of copyright material, but a trademark such as the logo has different protections that Dumb Starbucks may well be violating, said Mark McKenna, a trademark law expert at the University of Notre Dame.

The brains behind the "Dumb Starbucks" coffee shop generated a lot of buzz with their publicity stunt, but they couldn't outwit health inspectors, who shut the store on its fourth day for operating without a valid permit.

The television comedian who opened the shop, where people lined up for hours to get a free cup of mediocre coffee, had insisted he didn't need a permit because the space was legally an art gallery and the coffee was art, not a beverage.

Los Angeles County health inspectors disagreed, and by Monday afternoon, told the shop to stop serving coffee before posting a "notice of closure" by the front door.

The store had survived the weekend, as had the secret of who was behind it.

That lasted until Canadian comic Nathan Fielder told a crowd Monday afternoon that he was pursuing the "American dream," before acknowledging that he planned to use the bit on his Comedy Central show "Nathan For You."

Patrons didn't seem to mind, snapping pictures in front of a green awning and mermaid logo that seemed so familiar - except that the word "Dumb" is prominently featured.

Customers weren't coming for gourmet fare: Their descriptions of the coffee ranged from "horrible" to "bitter," and one parent said his daughter complained that the hot chocolate was like water.

Instead, they were just coming to say they came, and to score a white paper cup with a sticker bearing the curious logo.

Before the rush of the past few days, production crews came to the location several times to film, according to permits taken out with Film LA, a private nonprofit that issues the licenses. The permits were billed to Abso Lutely Productions, which has produced Fielder's show.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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