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 Chocolate, Unicorn 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.
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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.
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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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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.
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