Starbucks didn't build its coffee empire by being nice, and Andrea McCarthy-Grzybek is learning that the hard way. The proprietor of the Starbarks Dog Daycare center in Algonquin, Ill., was recently hit with a cease-and-desist letter from the corporate behemoth, which is demanding that McCarthy-Grzybek change her company's name, logo, and website. Starbucks tells The Chicago Sun-Times that it has a "legal obligation to protect our intellectual property," but local fans of Starbarks are calling foul. "Can Starbucks seriously be more petty?!" one supporter wrote on Starbarks' Facebook page. Unfortunately, this isn't the first time that a little guy has been targeted for coming too close to an exclusive copyright. Here, five other petty copyright infringement claims:
1. Subway vs. Steakways
Frank and Brian Bowser, a father-son team, said in 2005 that they didn't even have Subway in mind when they opened up Steakways in Milford, Conn. "We do steak all different ways," Frank Bowser explained to The Roanoke Times, citing his shop's Philly cheesesteak and corned beef sandwich. However, the sandwich chain demanded that Steakways change its name. "Regardless of the size, if there looks like there may be a copyright infringement, we've got to protect the name," said a Subway spokesman.
2. Microsoft vs. MikeRoweSoft
Mike Rowe, a 17-year-old from Vancouver, probably thought he was being pretty clever when he registered the domain name MikeRoweSoft.com in 2003 to advertise his website-design business. But Microsoft was less than pleased, demanding that Rowe transfer ownership of the site to the software giant. In compensation, Microsoft offered Rowe $10, which led Rowe to demand $10,000 because he was "sort of mad at them for only offering 10 bucks." The two sides eventually reached a settlement.
3. Harry Potter vs. Harry Popper
Warner Bros. wasn't too happy when it discovered that a Swiss company was making "Harry Popper" condoms with packaging that featured a "pink, pimpled prophylactic" wearing round glasses and sporting a magic wand, says Xan Brooks at Britiain's The Guardian. Warner Bros. sued, saying the condom, which has been sold by the company Magic X since 2006, is "clearly a reference to the film and fictional character of Harry Potter." Magic X denies the claim.
4. Andy Griffith vs. Andy Griffith
"Forget the small-town belief in letting bygones be bygones," says Colin Fly of The Associated Press. In 2006, the eponymous star of The Andy Griffith Show, who was famous for portraying a small-town sheriff, brought the legal hammer down on one Andrew Jackson Griffith, nee William Harold Fenrick, for changing his name to bolster his campaign for sheriff of a small town in Wisconsin. "For such an American icon, it's a pretty un-American thing to do to me," Griffith/Fenrick said. The real Andy Griffith died in July 2012.
5. Mickey Mouse vs. the kids
Walt Disney didn't exactly endear itself to its target audience when it sued a children's center in Florida in 1989 for putting up Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, and other cartoon characters on its outside walls. When the story went national, people began to cry foul. A Disney spokesperson said the complaints "have been from people who apparently don't understand the American copyright." The owners of the daycare center eventually bowed to Disney's demands, replacing Mickey and Co. with Hanna-Barbera cartoon characters.