After rhyming name game, Starbucks files cases against firms supplying fake company products

After rhyming name game, Starbucks files cases against firms supplying fake company products

NEW DELHI: Shoppers, beware: the
Starbucks branded coffee mugs, tumblers and other products that you may have fancied on ecommerce platforms or small shops in the country are mostly fake.

Starbucks Corporation — the iconic US coffeehouse chain that has fought legal cases against local restaurants with similar sounding names of Sardarbukhs and Cake Bucks over the years in India — is now fighting cases against a host of firms/individuals supplying fake Starbucks products to retailers in various cities.

Starbucks lawyers along with courtappointed local commissioners recently conducted raids in Delhi’s Sadar Bazaar area and seized several goods sporting Starbucks logo and trademarks, a person close to the development told ET.

Earlier this year, Starbucks informed custom officials about a “huge consignment” of fake Starbucks mugs and tumblers among other items with the Starbucks logo emblazoned on them coming from China and got it seized at the port, said another person familiar with the development.

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A spokesperson of Tata Starbucks, an equal joint venture between Starbucks and Tatas that owns and operates Starbucks outlets in the country, said the company takes counterfeits and infringements to its brand “very seriously”. “We have been made aware of instances of counterfeits and have taken up the matter with the relevant authorities.”

Starbucks said it does not sell its merchandise through any third-party sellers in the country. Yet, a product search on top ecommerce marketplaces, including Flipkart and Amazon, throws up several Starbucks products, including coffee mugs and tumblers.

When contacted, an Amazon India spokesperson said, “Amazon.in has a very high bar of customer experience and is committed to taking strict action against sellers who violate the law, as and when such incidents are reported to us.”

A Flipkart spokesperson said, “Flipkart is a responsible marketplace that helps sellers connect with customers across the country. While products are listed by them, each and every one of our sellers are mandated to adhere to stringent guidelines.”

Counterfeit and fake products have been a major issue for Indian and global companies in the country for years, and experts believe the rapid growth ecommerce over the last five years has made it easier for perpetrators of such products.

A recent survey by citizen engagement platform LocalCircles found that one out of every five products sold on ecommerce platforms is a fake.

While no fresh data is available, a study by industry association Ficci had showed that companies suffered an estimated loss of about Rs 105,381crore in 2013-14. The Ficci study had also said there was 44% jump in counterfeiting in two years between 2011-12 and 2013-14.

The US Commission on the Theft of American Intellectual Property (IP Commission) had estimated that mainland China and Hong Kong accounted for $50-100 billion in exports of counterfeit products in 2015. They included Michael Kors bags, Cartier watches, Levi’s jeans, Ray-Ban sunglasses, Disney products and fake iPhones, among others.