Starbucks Is Getting Sued Over the Unicorn Frappuccino

This cool drink is sparking one heated debate.

It's the kind of fantastical battle you'd expect Peter Jackson to tell over the course of three hours, amid a lush New Zealand landscape: One unicorn is suiting up, readying to go head-to-head against another unicorn of mythic proportions. One ridden by a two-tailed, green-and-white Siren, whose face is plastered on cups, signs, and strip malls worldwide.

As otherworldly as it seems, this isn't a work of fiction. A Brooklyn-based coffee shop, The End, is suing Starbucks over the chain's limited-edition Unicorn Frappuccino. You see, back in December 2016 (amid the initial frenzy for Unicorn Hot ChocolateUnicorn Milkshakes, and well, unicorn everything), The End launched a Unicorn Latte. While called a latte, the pastel blue drink doesn't contain coffee—and neither does Starbucks' pink and blue Frappuccino, which debuted in late April, and was offered for about a week.

In a lawsuit filed in Brooklyn federal court, The End says Starbucks intended to establish "its deceptively similar beverage as the main (if not only) 'unicorn' beverage on social media." As a result, "the coordinated social media blitz orchestrated by Starbucks drowned out the fame that any coffee shop in Brooklyn could obtain." The End has a trademark pending on its Unicorn Lattes, and soon found that customers thought its latte was a copycat drink, according to the New York Daily News. This confusion has caused The End "derision and ridicule," the lawsuit states.

Starbucks has fired back with an official statement: "We are aware of the claims and believe they are without merit. The Starbucks Unicorn Frappuccino blended beverage was inspired by the fun, spirited, and colorful unicorn-themed food and drinks that have been trending in social media. The beverage was offered for a limited time in April and is no longer available in our stores."

Multiple sources are reporting that The End is seeking $10 million for copyright infringement. While the lawsuit acknowledges the drink was only offered for a limited time, it argues that confusion surrounding the Unicorn Frappuccino and Unicorn Latte will continue to be an issue for the Williamsburg café.

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Candice Braun Davison

Candace Braun Davison writes, edits, and produces lifestyle content that ranges from celebrity features to roll-up-your-sleeves DIYs, all while relentlessly pursuing the noblest of causes: the quest for the world's best chocolate chip cookie.