Bangkok — The Thai push-cart coffee vendor who is being sued by global coffee giant Starbucks says he is willing to go to jail but cannot pay the fine and will not remove his logo.
Starbucks is suing Damrong Maslae for 300,000 baht (US$9,663) for allegedly copying their logo on his small business. They are also demanding he pay 30,000 baht (US$966) per month and legal fees.
A court date for the first hearing has been set for November 4.
Mr. Damrong’s “Starbung Coffee” logo is a green and white circle which Starbucks says is a copy of their trademark. “Bung” is the owner’s nickname.
Mr. Damrong says his logo was designed by his friend and is not similar to Starbuck’s. It features an old Muslim man at the center, and the green color comes from his Islamic religion.
The Starbucks logo features a female mermaid or siren taken from ancient Greek mythology.
“I won’t remove the logo or change the name no matter what,” said Mr. Damrong, according to a Bangkok Post report.
The controversy has gained international media attention and has generated thousands of comments on the internet.
For now, all the attention has increased his business, with coffee sales increasing from 50-100 cups per day to 150.
If found guilty, Mr. Damrong could face up to two years in jail or a fine up to 200,000 baht.
“I won’t run away, and nor will I be able to pay a fine. But I can serve a jail term if I have to,” he said.
Starbucks claims it was left with no choice but to take legal action, as its attempts to settle the issue amicably with Starbung proved unsuccessful.
Starbucks reported revenue of US$13.3 billion (412 billion baht) last year with a net profit of US$1.38 billion, and has nearly 21,000 chains in 62 countries, including 171 in Thailand. Image/foodbeast.com