COTTLEVILLE, Mo. – Missouri craft brewer Jeff Britton thought he would have a little fun when he named one of his Exit 6 beers the “Frappicino.”
The stout beer received about three check-ins on the smartphone beer app “Untappd.” Then Britton received a “cease and desist letter” from coffee company Starbucks for a potential copyright infringement.
A letter sent out by Anessa Owen Kramer, an attorney who protects Starkbucks’ trademarks, told Exit 6 Brewery that “Frappicino” too closely represents “Frappucino” in name. The Frappucino is one of Starbuck’s signature coffee drinks.
Rather than be offended, Britton decided to have a little tongue-firmly-planted-in-cheek-fun with the coffee giant.
“"As you probably don't know, Exit 6 is the proud owner of no trademarks including our own name much less than the name 'F Word' and nothing about Exit 6 is incontestable," Britton wrote in his response to the cease-and-desist letter.
He addressed “Ms. Owen Kramer” and “Mr. Buck” and referred to “The F Word” in lieu of writing either Frappicino or Frappucino throughout.
Britton even wrote the company a $6 check, estimating the profit made off the three pints of “Frappicino” he confirmed were sold.
“We want to be sure that Ms. Owen Kramer and Mr. Bucks know that Exit 6 and the 3 customers that checked into the beer known as the F Word feel just awful about calling the beer the F Word. We are bad people. We feel shame,” Britton stated. “We also promise to stop production of our ‘Starbuck-McDonalds-Coca Cola-Marlboro-Honey Lager’ for fear of further repercussions.”
In a moment of serious though, the brew pub owner told television station KSDK that he understood Starbuck’s request.
"When I got that letter, I had to laugh," he said. "I don't blame Starbucks for doing what they did, I understand why they did it and they had every right to do it. But I'm a small brewery, small bar, in a small town, that makes small batches of beer."
Exit 6’s run in with Starbuck’s legal department gained notoriety when it was picked up by Gawker , a legal blog called Above the Law, and NPR’s “The Two-Way after the brewer posted the incident on its Facebook page.
Once the issue was settled, Britton re-christened his stout “the F Word” on the brew pub’s menu.