Dumb Starbucks, a coffee shop in the Los Feliz area of Los Angeles which is identical to the real Starbucks in every way apart from the ‘Dumb’ prefix, has become something of a viral sensation in the last couple of days. Speculation has run wild as to who is behind the store, which has received coverage on Mashable, Fox News and Esquire, among others.
It has now been revealed that Dumb Starbucks is the brainchild of Nathan Fielder, a Canadian comedian, as a promotional stunt for his Comedy Central show ‘Nathan For You’. Fielder has released an official statement in the form of a YouTube video, filmed at the shop in Los Feliz:
“Hi, I’m Nathan Fielder, president and founder of Dumb Starbucks, a brand new coffee experience located in Los Angeles, California. By adding the word ‘dumb’, we are legally allowed to use the coveted Starbucks name and logo, because we’ve fulfilled the minimum requirements to be considered a parody under U.S. law. We have a full menu, including all your favourite Starbucks items, a delicious selection of pastries, and even some music for the ride home. Many of you probably know me as a comedian, but this is no bit or joke. This is a real business I plan to get rich from. But I need your support. Our flagship store is located at 1802 Hillhurst in Los Angeles, California. Come in and get a free coffee on me!”
This parody law distinction is an important factor in protecting Fielder’s little venture from being sued: “In the eyes of the law, our ‘coffee shop’ is actually an art gallery and the ‘coffee’ you’re buying is considered art. But that’s for our lawyers to worry about.”
While Fielder has hinted at the possibility of opening a Dumb Starbucks branch in New York City, the publicity stunt isn’t expected to run for much longer, which has prompted novelty-seekers to start buying Dumb Starbucks memorabilia, with branded takeaway cups going for upwards of $300 on eBay.
Meanwhile, Jim Olson, a spokesperson for the real Starbucks, told CNN Money: “We appreciate the humour but they can’t use our name… it’s a protected trademark.”