NEW YORK (CBSMiami/AP) – Starbucks is being sued by a New York cafe that claims the coffee chain stole its “Unicorn Latte” concept.
The End started selling its Unicorn Latte in December and has had a trademark on the drink name pending since January.
Starbucks launched the Unicorn Frappuccino in April as a limited-run item, and it enjoyed considerable media attention.
Both drinks are similar in that neither contains coffee, though they are on the opposite spectrum of healthy consumption. The End says the Unicorn Latte is made from ingredients like dates, ginger root and algae. The lawsuit says Starbucks’ drink is made from milk and artificial sweeteners.
“Our client Montauk Juice Factory created the Unicorn Latte, a successful product that our clients transformed into a social media sensation, developed a famous and valuable trademark, and took the appropriate steps to protect it,” said attorney Josh Schiller of Boies Schiller Flexner LLP, which is representing the cafe, in a statement. “Starbucks, with its thousands of coffee shops, launched a competing product with a similar look and name, and marketed it in the same channels where our client’s product became famous, severely damaging our client’s mark.”
CBSNewYork reports that the cafe is seeking $10 million.
“The size of and scope of Starbucks’ product launch was designed so that the Unicorn Frappuccino would eclipse the Unicorn Latte in the market, thereby harming Plaintiffs and confusing their customers,” the lawsuit alleges.
The complaint notes that customers started to ask The End to create Unicorn Frappuccinos for them, while online publications referred to Starbucks’ product as a Unicorn Latte.
“The Unicorn Latte has been the most popular product we’ve created to date, so we were shocked and disappointed when Starbucks came out with the Unicorn Frappuccino, which is similar to our product in name and appearance, but has none of its healthy ingredients,” The End co-owner Bret Caretsky said in a statement.
A spokesperson for Starbucks says the lawsuit is without merit.
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