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November 09, 2007


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The logo is similar, but not close enough in my opinion. Now the pet bakery NEXT DOOR TO my local Starbucks is a different story. A large decal on the door in a very familiar font that is a very familiar shade of green reads "Starbarks." They have a better case of trademark infringement there than with Congo.


i'm sure this was not intentional.

1.the colors of the flag in the congo are red, yellow and green. that explains the color choices...

2. i don't see much of a similarity between a gorilla and a siren, but that's just me.

3. really, the only similarity is that it's a green, circular sign with a white outline. i don't think that's unique enough to be considered a copyright infringement. - that'd be like circuit city taking a company to court because their lettering is in red print. it's just too generic.

rock on congo coffe, rock on.

Pat Nerr

jeeze... Maybe they should just sue some priests for using the word "Christmas" in their coffee blend...

I can't believe Batur even pursued this... let alone sending a cease and desist. That is unless the company in anyway tried to mislead folks into thinking it was Starbucks... I personally don't see how the sign would do it.

That's actually not too bad, I've seen a lot worse.


They've been using the sign for years. Starbucks should just leave them alone. They look like bullies.


True it is a green circle and has the words coffee and tea, but the elephant in the middle of a yellow background does set it apart. Unless they are really trying to claim the elephant is from the old Kenya coffee stickers.... I've seen others that are way closer to Starbucks then that logo. Too many circluar green logos out there these days.

The question in my mind though is, if you are opening a small cafe and want to set yourself apart from the main steam, wouldn't you want your logo to be something truely unique? Or is everyone just trying to ride the coat tails of Bux rather then put in their own efforts? The small cafes that do the best in business even with their neighbour hood Starbucks across the street don't try to be like them, don't even consider them competition, but rather highlight that they are smaller, independant and locally owned.



i'm sure this was not intentional.

1.the colors of the flag in the congo are red, yellow and green. that explains the color choices...

2. i don't see much of a similarity between a elephant and a siren, but that's just me.

3. really, the only similarity is that it's a green, circular sign with a white outline. i don't think that's unique enough to be considered a copyright infringement. - that'd be like circuit city taking a company to court because their lettering is in red print. it's just too generic.

rock on congo coffee, rock on.


Bullies, yes...


Northern Latte

Why does Pat Ner always name drop?

My vote is let them keep their logo.

Pat Nerr

It adds accountability

Pat Nerr

Whoa... I don't even have to type anymore. My ghost typist will do it for me...

nicely played


Good gravy, man, give me a freakin' break. The two logos don't look similar enough for Starbucks to have a claim.


hah here we go again... in reality starbucks is just getting scared... and for what???????? geez they freakin make themselves look bad by pointing these things out.... why can't we be "legendary" and heh freakin go by the "just say yes" policy...

Shift Super

It's not a direct rip-off or anything but the green logo with words around the outside and a white outline and some drawing/logo in the middle is pretty closely tied with the Starbucks brand, probably enough to make this a valid claim by Starbucks.


anyone who doesn't think our job sucks compared to others, check marketwatch.com(10 worst jobs in america).the facts are in. don't think they threw coffee shop in for the heck of it.


I love my job.

Hard, yes! but I love it. That is why I gave up the rat race and the 9-5 for it. I feel rewarded.

Sorry you hate your job.

Scorchio in TN

Herman M.

First, Conga, not Congo. Unless the Drunken line dance now has a flag ;-)

Second. It is green. And T-Mobile has Magenta. Trademarking colors is a bit silly, I think. But apparently it can be done.

Third. It's round. Again, I see lots of round signs, so I think it's a bit silly.

Fourth, I see an elephant on a grey background. Where are folks seeing gorillas and yellow backgrounds?

Fifth, even if ti isn't "that close" it is a coffee company using a similar shape and color to promote a similar product. IT is in the interest of any successful company to pursue any potential copyright infringement, even if it is marginal like this one. If they don't the next one is the same color green and has a starfish in the middle. Precedent has been set that the company won't pursue the issue, so it goes unnoticed and the next one replaces the lettering with StarFish Coffee. And the next puts a horse in the middle, then one with a horse and the name Star's Bucking Bronco coffee. And Starbucks can do nothing because they have let all the other ones slide.

Again, I think it's silly. But Starbucks is far from the only company that does this.

And finally, for JL. It's not a policy. It's a philosophy. And that's straight from the descriptions of the core competencies, if you care to have a look. If you can make the transition, you can then be truly legendary. Take it from a partner that's been around quite a while, it makes the stress less as well.

Awkward Jimmy

Let's squint. Blur your eyes a bit. Maybe you have a hard time seeing things far away, right? So you think Conga's coffee is Starbucks, and walk in, but nothing is what you expect it to be. You find yourself in Conga's Coffee, expecting Starbucks.

There is every likelihood that there have been comments (possibly complaints?) detailing the confusion that SOME customers may have in telling the difference between two similar appearing objects.

Ed opened the comments by telling us that there is a Starbarks next to his Starbucks, a pet bakery. The correlation between Starbucks and Starbarks may be intentional, but will never infringe on the Starbucks market. We sell to people, not dogs.

The same is true for any other Green, White, and Black round signs that remind us of the Starbucks logo, EXCEPT for one critical component - they do not serve coffee, and therefor no infringement.

This is where the Starbucks/Conga coffee debacle must reach a conclusion. Corporation vs. Ma and Pa. Worldwide vs. local.

I laugh at the idea of Conga's Coffee being any type of threat to the Starbucks juggernaut, but I also firmly believe that a change should be made. The cost of an international corporation re-branding itself is hardly practical, Starbucks would do well to extend some form of solid aid to work with the Conga Coffe and Tea people to work out a solution and perhaps help them form a unique and independent branding of their own.

John T

Pat Nerr -
You're a bit negative on your former employer it appears. What local (Northwest) employers do you think do a good job?

John T

Yes, I got the whole "Starbucks is bad" thing from you. What I was asking was to have you share the names of one or two NW companies who are better. Or at least not "corporate parasites."

John T

Just wondering if you were going to say, for example, REI.

Or maybe you should stop with the name dropping, ok?

John T

You constantly name drop. You mention Batur. You make a snide comment about Dave Olsen. And that's just today.

As you have no issue posting the names of people on this website, how about Rob Anderson? Know him? Oh wait, you do, don't you? Does REI?

John T

Pat Nerr/Rob Anderson,
So what? You worked at Starbucks, big deal. You had lunch with an svp. Feel special? You are a bitter former 15 year partner, now working at REI, who remains obsessed with your former employer. So obsessed, in fact, that you spend all day (and all night) logging onto its gossip website, sniping and belittling folks, disparaging your former employer, all while constantly plugging your blog, which is -- drum roll please -- all about your former employer.

Maybe it's time to move on?

Does REI know you're spending so much time at work writing, obsessing, and complaining about your former employer? Should they worry that they're the next subject of your obsession?

Move on Rob Anderson/Pat Nerr, move on.

John T

Pat Nerr/Rob Anderson,
I think the fact that you consider an svp a heavyweight says more about your lot in life than mine.

You were in training for god's sake. An overlooked manager like yourself really doesn't have that much insight into how the company operates.

Maybe a few of your contacts need to know what you're doing with this information you squeeze from them. (Unless they know what you're doing with it, in which case that will be their issue.)

Glad to hear REI is happy with your performance for the first 3 or 4 months. Maybe someone needs to suggest that their IT dept check your internet usage.

John T

Wow, testy. Apparently I've hit a nerve tonight Rob Anderson.

Your svp peers? Oh! You're a former svp now! And here I was thinking you were a disgruntled former manager (or mgr?). Whatsa matter, thought you should have been a director after all those years?

You don't divulge information that compromises your contacts, yet you openly name them here. I'm sure Mike will be so pleased to know that whatever info he shared with you won't be attributed to him. Whew!

I think you and I both know that Mike will be somewhat aghast to know you named him here. Needless to say, that won't be good for him.

As far as your current employer's satisfaction, I guess we'll find out soon enough.

PS. No need to keep plugging your blog or asking me to go view it.


Well that was quite a nice display. Nothing like a little drama to go with my cup of Christmas Blend. It must be the holidays, all of the dysfunctional relatives are here, who wants dessert? Seconds anyone?


My blog clearly articulates the issues with Starbucks and how it is a Corporate parasite.

I thought you told me you loved starbucks? Maybe that was someone on your staff that said they were parasites? Do other people at your blog site post under patt nerr?

True Pat Nerr

wow... Pat Nerr has had quite a conversation here while I've been gone...

It seems "Pat Nerr" has multiple personalities

Pat Nerr

Darleen... Only Pat Nerr gets to be "Pat Nerr" at Green Apron Stories.

Borrowed Partner


Some help with the personal grudge match being played out would be great for those of us who don't care about Pat Nerr, or those who are using the name. If I chose to go to Pat's blog on my own time, I will, but since I didn't, I would love to have the 4 minutes of my life back that I just spent reading that little battle. Pat-sometimes I really enjoy your insight, but sometimes it is getting to be a little much. And most of us are so far removed from the SSC that we don't care know Rob or Mike or any of the other names are. Jeesh, I think I am going to go get a venti PM....*sigh*.

Pat Nerr

I couldn't agree more Borrowed... Let's be ourselves here folks... sort of


Conga Coffee is not that far from my house. I don't go because they're never open when I want to relax over coffee, whereas my local Starbucks is. The sign is irrelevant.


The logo is a mimic of the Sbux logo, no doubt. Why would they choose it otherwise? I had a small business once and used the "got milk" line in an advertisement. We received a threatening letter from a law firm to STOP immediatly or face a lawsuit. (We stopped.) Sbux has a right to their property just like anyone else, big or small. (I've been in the Congo in st clair shores, horrible, full of smoke and dirty!!)

Herman M.

Ha! That last was a good one, Pat.


John T. and Pat Nerr -- Take your feud to e-mail and off this site, please.

Pat Nerr

Gladly, but that "Pat Nerr" is not I just for the record.


OK -- I'll start checking IP addresses and begin deleting posts by identity thieves.


And I thought I was suppose to be the bitchy queen here. Anyway, I do also communicate above your level at Starbucks with executive vice presidents and the CEO and President himself and the chairman, but Uncle Howie is really busy building an empire so not as much as I like. He's only one person. Also you spell "MERE" because somebody did not watch Akeelah and the Bee enough. Stop relying on your IT spell check, please. But I will say the Dave Olsen partner video from last year was pretty stupid. Its pretty creepy that you are checking IP addresses if you ask me.


What I don't think anyone has stopped to think about here is that Conga Coffee has been around for 11 years, according to the article.

Was Starbucks a global coffee behemoth 11 years ago? No, it was only known to people in Seattle. It wasn't until the late 90s and early 2000s that Starbucks underwent this rapid expansion.

So what does that tell us? Who would mimic the logo of a (previously unheard of, albeit growing) company? And it's not even a mimic of it - jeez, people - use your eyes.

Chantal Marie Hernandez

Above post by Chantal


I must have missed that bit about it having been in business for eleven years. Can they still have a claim if there has been a registered logo around for that long?


da bucks has been around for 30 years. Don't know when the current logo was created but who's to say that the originator of the Conga logo didn't go to Chicago or see an article in the paper. Really, the logo is OBVIOUSLY a copy of a Starbucks logo....otherwise why would they even pick that ugly logo. It's totally not creative and says nothing about Conga coffee. I would use this opportunity to come up with a logo that was more interesting and appealing. Possibly, something that actually defined my coffee shop as an independant not a starbucks rip off.


okay, so if I am correct this poster above me is NOT patt nerr. I just went to the website posted and it is a bogus starbucks site. So obviously this is the poster that is arguing and using patt nerr's name and should be banned if I'm correct. Patt Nerr's name always directs you to green apron stories, not a bogus starbucks site. Fake Patt Nerr, you need to go.

Herman M.

Hey, Chantal.

Unless DC was a suburb of Seattle in the 90's, I gotta argue with the "only in Seattle" thing. Same for NYC, Boston, even Richmond, VA. And those are just the markets I visited ;-)

Saw Brothers, Hannibal's, but no Conga in any of them.

independent barista

Congo first introduced me to a fine latte. they were in Michigan a year before the first starbucks. and the bonus is they don't have an automatic espresso machine - it is still grind and tamp fresh to order.


The first sbux logos were brown. When did they become green? If it was less than 11 years ago, then Conga didn't infringe on anything.

The logo has been green for at least 16 years.

"The logo has been green for at least 16 years"

But Starbucks hasn't been rapidly expanding for 16 years. Starbucks first became nationally recognized less than 7 years ago.


PAT Nerr/ Rob Anderson,

What is the employee discount rate at REI??


Starbucks has been nationally recognized for WAY more than 7 years. 7 years ago I was working in a Starbucks in CT... and it was one of three in the city, which is not that large.

I was a regular Starbucks customer in the CT/NY/NJ area starting around 15 years ago... and the store I frequented first was the 805th Starbucks opened. I'd call that national recognition, wouldn't you?

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