16 Burleigh Road, POB 31, Center Tuftonboro, NH 03816

Phone: 800-967-3190   Phone: 603-569-6007   FAX: 603-569-6009

On the WEB at www.BlackBearCoffee.com    E-mail: bbmr@worldpath.net

 

Tuesday, June 05, 2001

John C. Rawls

JONES, DAY, BEAVIS & POGUE

555 West Fifth Street

Suite 4600

Los Angeles, CA 90013-1025

Re: Starbucks Coffee Company/Black bear Micro Roastery

Dear John,

        I am responding to your letter of May 29, 2001, only because you have been so polite in the past.  However, I must insist that there be no further communication between us.  I would like to re-direct your attention to the letter, dated July 6, 1998, which I sent to you.  In particular, I would refer you to lines 30 through 53.  If, for any reason, you do not have a copy of said letter, please let me know, and I’ll forward a copy immediately.

        I would like to make our position even clearer.

1.   The amount of time that this matter has spanned is one of the clearer indications that Starbucks is willfully engaging in the harassment of our business.

2.   The following reference in your letter - “Starbucks continues to believe that a compromise of our dispute is better for both parties than potentially expensive and protracted litigation.” - we view as direct threat of causing us unbearable financial burden, and, therefore, appears to be a direct attempt to extort an agreement favorable to Starbucks.

3.   The offer to increase Starbucks’ contribution to our legal expenses indicates:

3.1.      The original offer was far from reasonable.

3.2.      An attempt to maneuver us into a position where we might eventually be induced to agree to unfavorable conditions because the allotted amount to cover our legal expenses is unexpectedly (on our part) exhausted.

4.   Since Starbucks has directly threatened us with legal proceedings in the past, and all deadlines set by Starbucks have been grossly exceeded, it has become clear that Starbucks is fully aware that there is no basis for Starbucks to institute any legal proceedings against us.

4.1.      This strongly indicates intent to harass.

While you and I agreed some time ago not to engage in discussions regarding the merits, or lack of, regarding this matter, I think I need to point specifically to certain facts.

1.   The name “Charbucks” has been in the public domain for more than a decade.

2.   George Howell, former owner of The Coffee Connection in Boston, MA, has been attributed with introducing “Charbucks” into the public lexicon, and the term was indeed directed at Starbucks, and was indeed meant to be derogatory.

2.1.      There have been many public figures who have used the term “Charbucks”, and there is no instance, we are aware of, where usage of the term was meant in a complementary manner.

3.   The inspiration for the term “Charbucks” comes directly from Starbucks’ tendency to roast its products more darkly than that of other major roasters.  Therefore, the primary liability for the negative connotations associated with “Charbucks” would have to rest with Starbucks.

4.   We bear absolutely no responsibility for the negative connotations associated with the term “Charbucks”.

5.   Our product, in no way, does any further damage to the reputation of Starbucks.

5.1.      Our product is a legitimate, dark roasted gourmet coffee, and the usage of the term “Charbucks” in the labeling of our product is a legitimate mechanism of conveying to the consumer the nature of the product, in regards to the degree of roasting that has been employed.

6.   Considering the genesis of the term “Charbucks”, the reason it rhymes with Starbucks is obvious, and the fact that it rhymes is irrelevant regarding trademark issues.

6.1.      Rhyming, by itself, does not constitute a basis for trademark litigation.

7.   The term “Charbucks” was in extensive usage in the public domain, it is not trademarked, and the inspiration for it’s usage was never successfully challenged by anyone for over a decade.

7.1.      We have every right to use that which is in the domain of the public, the term “Charbucks” is clearly in the public domain.  We will continue to use it as we have in the past.

In conclusion, I have to, once again, ask you not to contact us any further.  This is not a legal matter, but simply one corporation seeking a “favor” from another corporation.  The appropriate Starbucks corporate representative should be the only person to contact us, not a law firm handling Starbucks’ trademark issues.  While Starbucks’ actions provide the clear basis for harassment litigation, we have professed a consistent aversion to proceeding against Starbucks.  It appears that our reticence may be inspiring Starbucks to undertake a long drawn out campaign of harassment against us in the belief that we will eventually give them what they want.  Should any state or federal criminal codes apply to this situation, considering that you are doing the actual harassing at this stage, think about the possibility you, and your firm could be considered accomplices, or at least co-defendants in a civil proceeding.  Surely there must be a more productive way for you to ply your trade, and surely there are more productive ways for Starbucks to invest its money, other than in legal fees generated from harassing a very small business.

        John, you have been a polite and respectful individual to deal with.  I am earnestly asking you to let this matter go, and advise your client that they have no basis for proceeding against us with trademark litigation.  I wish you no ill whatsoever and I ask that you would respect my family’s right to earn a living without the persistent and baseless jabs from Starbucks.

Respectfully yours,

 

Jim Clark