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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Cafe to cash in on intl brand

Cafe to cash in on intl brand

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090325_14.jpg

Photo by: Tracey Shelton

The Starbucks sign at the soon-to-open The Cafe coffeeshop at The Place on Sihanouk Boulevard. The sign says "The Place does not possess Starbucks licence".

A COFFEE shop sporting the Starbucks logo is scheduled to open on April 1 in Phnom Penh, despite having failed to secure a Starbucks licence, the store manager said on Tuesday.

Called The Cafe and situated in The Place on Sihanouk Boulevard, it is closely modelled on the American coffee giant.

The logo displayed on the window is a replica of the Starbucks logo, but a ring of text around the outside states: "The Place does not possess Starbucks licence".

Cafe manager Joshua Jones admitted they are not a licensed Starbucks store but said they would sell Starbucks coffee and products as well as use the logo.

Jones said he had not been involved in the legal proceedings around the design of the label, but was confident they were not infringing on Starbucks's trademark.

"Whatever we have done we have done within the law, and whatever repercussions that it might have, have been covered," he said, adding that the wording around the logo clarified this.

Previous applications for a Starbucks licence had been rebuffed. "We have applied for one a number of times, and each time we have been denied," he said.

"They're not interested in coming to Cambodia."

Starbucks is a US-based coffee giant with over 4,500 stores in 47 countries around the world, according to its website.

After a prolonged period of rapid expansion, the coffee giant is currently axing a number of its outlets around the world.

Since July last year it has announced the closure of over 900 stores worldwide. Its profits dropped by almost 70 percent in the final quarter of last year.

The company has been known to vigorously protect its intellectual property, though this appeared to be only in countries where it was already operating.

Starbucks has successfully sued outlets in the past for trademark infringement, including a Chinese chain that used a green and white logo with a similar sounding Chinese name.

It also prevented a US artist from profiting from a parody of the Starbucks logo which featured the words "consumer whore" around the outside.

Jones said his target market was 20-to 30-year-old unmarried professionals. He added that he expected foreigners who were familiar with the brand to be his major customers to begin with.

Lawyer Matthew Rendall, a partner at Sciaroni and Associates, said that unless The Cafe had permission from Starbucks, it appeared to be a blatant copyright violation.

"You can't go and use somebody else's logo to promote your own product or service without their permission, so unless they've got permission from Starbucks you'd have to assume that was a trademark violation," he said.

Rendall added that the Ministry of Commerce was very vigilant about protecting trademarks, on the basis that that business might try and enter the country one day.

"You've got to assume that at the very least it's false and misleading," he said.

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