A law firm representing Starbucks has sent cease and desist letters to cafes across Mexico.
The document states that all mentions of the word “frappuccino” must be removed, as Starbucks has owned the term since 1991.
The news was received with disbelief by many businesses who said they had no idea they were infringing on a trademark.
“The word frappuccino has become so ubiquitous, after so much time this really feels like a bit of an overreach,” said a cafe owner, Claudia Uribe.
For the most part, cafes in México are not removing frappuccinos from their menus, but rather changing the name.
Some cafes have taken the opportunity to humorously draw attention to the situation by naming their cold coffee beverages with monikers such as “El Ilegal,” or “Sin Nombre.”
“We have a few locations here in Cancún but are so tiny when compared to Starbucks, so we will of course comply,” said a press statement from Antoniett Cafe.
As a result of this legal action, there has been somewhat of a customer backlash against Starbucks by people who see this move as unfair.
“Corporations just love flexing their muscles over the little guys. I prefer my corner coffee joint anyway than those calorie bombs they call coffee,” said Manuel Diaz, of Jalapa Veracruz, on Facebook.
People who argue that terms like frappuccino have become so common that they should lose their trademark may have a point.
In some countries including the United States, when a trademark becomes so ubiquitous it becomes generalized, its intellectual property rights in the trademark may be lost and competitors may be also able to use it.
Examples of this loss of trademark due to genericization include brands such as Jell-O and Aspirin.