This year certainly had its share of ups and downs in terms of lawyerly antics, but in our minds, 2013 shall forever be known as the year of the snarky cease and desist response letter. Back in June, we broke the news of the now famous response to a cease and desist letter received from the Town of West Orange, New Jersey, which went viral worldwide thanks to the power of sarcasm. A few months later, we wrote about an equally entertaining response to a cease and desist letter received from the American Bankers Association, rife with Spice Girls lyrics and Valley girl lingo.
It’s been a while since we wrote about one of these treasures, so we figured we’d close the year out with a bang. We discovered yet another amazing response to a cease and desist letter, and this one may be the greatest of them all — if only because we think its author might have been drunk while writing it….
Jeff Britton, the owner of Exit 6 Pub and Brewery in Cotteville, Missouri, received a cease and desist letter from none other than Starbucks, specifically from Anessa Owen Kramer of Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn, over a beer named “Frappicino.” As the world knows, the lords of coffee sell a frozen drink (a coffee Slurpee?) by the name of “Frappuccino.” Yes, the names are similar, but to be confused enough to think you could order the nectar of mall-hopping teenage girls at a bar, you’d have to be pretty drunk.
Rather than cower in fear over the legal consequences threatened by America’s coffee monarch, Britton decided it would be in his best interests to write a response on his own, without the assistance of legal counsel, because he didn’t need no stinkin’ lawyer. Here’s what he posted on the Exit 6 Facebook page:
So quick little story. Last week I received a cease and desist letter from the attorneys at Starbucks. Apparently there was a beer on Untappd that someone named “Frappicino”. 3 people had checked into said beer. 3. Starbucks [didn't] like that. So I got a letter. They wanted me to remove the beer and promise never to use their names again. They also wanted my written response and guarantee. Here is their letter. And also my response.
Needless to say, Britton’s response is amazing — he even threw in some legalese, despite the fact that he’s not a lawyer (oh yeah, heretofore, baby). Here are some highlights from his letter (all errors included in the original). You’d have to be drunk to write something like this, right? Who cares, it’s freakin’ awesome:
Exit 6 has proudly sold at least 38 drinks in Cottleville MO and has a strong presence in St Charles county, a suburb 40 miles outside the St Louis metropolis. It has recently come to Exit 6 Pub and Brewerys attention that there were 3 check ins to the beer with a very similar name to the “F Word”. Unfortunately it was only similar to the F Word because we meant to call it the same thing. Lucky for us, we’re poor spelers.
I would like for both Ms Owen Kramer and Mr Bucks to rest assured we meant no deception, confusion, or mistaking in the naming of the beer F Word. We never thought that our beer drinking customers would have thought that the alcoholic beverage coming out of the tap would have actually been coffee from one of the many, many, many stores located a few blocks away. I guess that with there being a Starbucks on every corner of every block in every city that some people may think they could get a Starbucks at a local bar. So that was our mistake.
Mr. Bucks isn’t Ms. Owen Kramer’s co-counsel; no, this “poor speler” is addressing Mr. Star Bucks himself, as if he were an actual human being. We imagine Britton was at least six Frapps in at this point.
We haven’t even gotten to the best part yet. To show Mr. Bucks just how sorry he really was, Britton enclosed a check in the amount of Exit 6’s profits made from its “Frappicino” beer to be applied to Ms. Owen Kramer’s legal fees, which he admits were “probably … more than Exit 6 made last year.” Here it is:
Behold: the legal equivalent of a mic drop. Cheers to you, Jeff Britton! We raise a glass in your honor.
UPDATE (1/6/2014, 9:30 a.m.): Here is Starbucks’s response to the controversy (fifth item).
(The C&D letter and the full response from Exit 6 Pub and Brewery can be seen on the next page.)