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ST. LOUIS — A small Missouri brewery has responded to a cease and desist letter from Starbucks by sending the coffee chain giant a check to cover what it calls the profit from use of the word "Frappicino" — a check for $6.
Exit 6 Pub and Brewery in the St. Louis suburb of Cottleville named one of its brews the Frappicino, spelled just slightly differently than the name that Starbucks uses for its blended beverages. That prompted an attorney for Starbucks Coffee Co. to send Exit 6 a letter Dec. 9.
The letter from attorney Anessa Owen Kramer noted that the Seattle-based company "is the owner of a number of world-famous trademarks, including the well-known FRAPPUCCINO trademark." It said that the words are "phonetically identical" and that Exit 6's use of Frappicino "is likely to cause confusion, mistake."
In his sarcastic response letter, Exit 6 owner Jeff Britton also wrote that the brewery "never thought that our beer drinking customers would have thought that the alcoholic beverage coming out of the tap would have actually been coffee from one of the many, many, many stores located a few blocks away."
Exit 6 posted the letter on its Facebook site and responded with a letter to Kramer and "Mr. Bucks." The letter said Exit 6 would no longer use the term "Frappicino" and would instead refer to its beer as the "F Word."
Britton said in a telephone interview Tuesday that he brewed up a new batch of "The F Word" last Friday. By then, the dispute was already drawing attention on social media, and the beer sold out in three hours. He's contemplating making more, based on the calls, emails and Facebook messages of support he said he's received from around the world.
"It's been unbelievable," Britton said. "People are just saying, 'Hey, read the story, good job.' I'm getting emails and Facebook messages from Germany, China, England. People are just clamoring for it."
Starbucks spokeswoman Laurel Harper said the company was glad the brewery agreed to stop using the name.
"This was a respectful request asking Exit 6 to refrain from using the term 'Frappicino,' which differs by only one letter from our 'Frappuccino' product," she said by telephone. (Technically, it differs by two.)
"We always prefer to resolve trademark disputes informally and amicably, and we appreciate them respecting our request to avoid confusion among customers."