What you would do if your identity card is stolen and put to unscrupulous uses? You will definitely fight back and that is what Starbucks did against Shanghai Xingbake Cafe back in early 2006.
For any company, the name and its logo are what build up their corporate identity and when some other company makes an infringement upon the corporate identity, the very survival of the company is at stake. So Starbucks was right in its action of dragging the Shanghai based company to the court.
So what was the main focus of contention? We are all well aware of the green and white colored Starbucks logo. The Shanghai Xingbake another coffee company used the similar hue in their logo; moreover, in Chinese language, ‘xing’ means ‘star’ and while you pronounce the characters ‘ba’ and ‘ke’ together, they phonetically sound like ‘bucks’. So you got the point—-a shameless piracy of the famous coffee chain’s logo and even its name.
However the case was concluded in favor of Starbucks—the Global heavy weight. It was a two years long copyright battle against Xingbake, the infamous Chinese coffee chain that allegedly mimicked US Company’s logo and name.
Now, the Shanghai Xingbake Coffee Company has to cough up a good 500,000 yuan (62,500 dollars) in compensation. The Starbucks which has about 300 retail outlets on the Chinese mainland, as well as in Hong Kong and Taiwan seems to be in jubilant mood followed by the judgment. The court described the Shanghai company’s part as “illegitimate competition”.
The Chinese coffee chain however gives different account: it dismisses the charge of violation of the Starbucks trademark or copying of the design of its logo. The Chinese company holds that it has made the official registration of its name in January 2000, before Starbucks opened its first store in Shanghai. But the Seattle based coffee giant argues that they had already opened the first Starbucks shop in China — in Beijing — in 1999. However, it was in December 2003 that Starbucks went to court against Xingbake.
This ruling has been heartily welcomed by the international companies operating within the walled city and other parts of China. For there have been much discontent among the European and US companies over the trademark infringement issues.
The Starbucks versus Xingbake case is perceived as a landmark in the protection of well-known international logo trademarks. It is also the sign of China’s changing outlooks toward intellectual property rights infringements and its counterfeiting industry followed by the pressure from the US and EU.