What Starbucks’ Unicorn Drink Debacle Can Teach Small Businesses

Protect Your Product, Even Against a Giant

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few weeks, you’ve probably heard of Starbucks’ Unicorn Frappuccino — or maybe even tried one for yourself. But what you might not know is that the colorful drink may not be unique to Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX).

In fact, The End, a cafe in Brooklyn, is currently suing Starbucks, claiming the chain stole the idea for the Unicorn drink from the small coffee shop. The company wasted no time in filing suit and getting the word out after Starbucks released the limited edition drink, which bears an uncanny resemblance to The End’s own Unicorn Latte.

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The End did file for trademark protection for its unique drink in January. But the application is still pending. So the outcome of this whole debacle remains to be seen. But the little coffee shop is seeking compensation and a public apology from Starbucks, citing that the similarities between the drinks could confuse customers into thinking the shop’s products are affiliated with Starbucks, and vice versa.

This is hardly the first time a small business has seen products similar to their own released by larger brands. And it certainly won’t be the last. So it’s important that small businesses know how to react to these situations to get the best possible outcome.

Protect Your Product, Even Against a Giant

It’s not easy for a business with limited resources to go up against a big brand like Starbucks. But unique ideas are often what keep small businesses going. So it’s essential that you protect those ideas whenever possible.

There’s no surefire way to make sure your business will come out on top. But as this situation shows, you need to be quick and resolute if you’re going to have any chance of being successful in a difficult situation.

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Unicorn Photo via Shutterstock 1 Comment ▼

Annie Pilon Annie Pilon is a Senior Staff Writer for Small Business Trends, covering entrepreneur profiles, interviews, feature stories, community news and in-depth, expert-based guides. When she’s not writing she can be found exploring all that her home state of Michigan has to offer.

One Reaction
  1. Ooh this is interesting. So the idea did not come from them? Will they be able to prove that it is their idea?