A Williamsburg coffee shop is suing Starbucks, claiming that the chain’s unicorn drink harmed its own unicorn latte-slinging business. The End Brooklyn started selling a unicorn latte in December 2016 and alleges that Starbucks harmed its business and confused its customers by launching its own explosively popular version, in Frappuccino form, this past April.
In a statement, The End co-owner Bret Caretsky said that their shop’s unicorn latte is the shop’s most popular product to date. His lawyer Josh Schiller pointed to Starbucks’ size as an unfair advantage in the competition, saying in a statement that the coffee giant’s actions are “severely damaging our client’s mark.”
Starbucks’ response, via a spokesperson, responded that The End’s claims “are without merit,” noting that the chain’s own unicorn beverage is “inspired by the fun, spirited, and colorful unicorn-themed food and drinks that have been trending in social media.” The drink is also no longer available.
The End wants an undisclosed amount of money for damages and a public apology, according to the lawsuit. The Brooklyn coffee shop applied for a trademark for its latte in January, but the application is still pending. The complaint is in full below.
While both drinks use the name unicorn and are incredibly colorful, they are vastly different. The End’s version uses trendy, healthy ingredients such as cold-pressed ginger, spirulina, and maca root, whereas the Frappuccino is mostly all sugar, with mango syrup, sour blue powder, whipped cream, and more. Ironically, neither contains coffee.
And although The End may have been one of the first to sell a unicorn-branded product, the “unicorn” food trend has been around for a while, with recipes appearing online last fall, and since then, many restaurants, coffee shops, and bakeries in the area have taken advantage of its popularity on social media.
The lawsuit brings to mind other large chains accused of coopting NYC originals. Momofuku’s David Chang has in the past accused Starbucks of stealing Milk Bar’s bagel bombs and Ben & Jerry’s of its famed cereal milk soft serve.