Starbucks Trademarks

Starbucks corporation is a multinational coffee house chain headquartered in Seattle. They are the largest coffee chain globally, with over 33,000 Starbucks stores across 80+ countries. Across these franchises, Starbucks has more than 400,000 workers (as of 2019). 

Starbucks was founded by Jerry Baldwin, Zev Siegl, and Gordon Bowker in 1971. In the 1980s, they sold the company to Howard Schultz. Since its inception, Starbucks coffee has become a cultural icon for younger generations. 

Starbucks coffee cup with logo

As chief executive officer from 1986, Schultz oversaw an aggressive expansion of the franchise, with the chain spreading from Seattle then across the west coast of the USA. Since then, Starbucks has had exponential growth and now has stores in Africa, Europe, North America, Asia, Oceania, and South America. Schultz handed over the position to Orin Smith, who ran the company for another five years and positioned Starbucks as a major player in the fair trade coffee industry, which helped increase sales to $5 billion. 

Starbucks acquired The Coffee Connection in 1994 to gain the rights to use, make and market the ”Frappuccino”, Starbucks consistently has over $2 billion for Frappuccino alone. 

In 1998, Starbucks entered the European market by acquiring the UK-based Seattle Coffee Company, rebranding all of those stores as Starbucks. Since then, they expanded into Switzerland, Belgium, Bulgaria, and other countries. Since 1987 Starbucks has added an average of 2 stores per day. 

Many stores carry Starbucks’ merchandise such as mugs, tumblers, scoops, and coffee presses. Starbucks brand coffee, ice cream, coffee pods, and bottled cold coffee drinks are sold in grocery stores in the USA and other countries. 

Starbucks has also launched an app, and by 2013, more than 10% of purchases were made via the Starbucks app. 

Since 2010, Starbucks has been donating leftover pastries in the USA to local foodbank through Food donation connections; in March 2016, Starbucks announced a 5-year plan to donate all of its unsold food from its 7000+ company-operated stores in the USA to local food banks. 

Starbucks is committed to helping the environment, banning plastic straws, and introducing reusable cups. Since April 2013, Starbucks introduced reusable cups where customers could bring their cups to any location and discount their order. In addition to this, Starbucks is planning to halve its emissions, waste output, and water impact by 2030 while also continuing to grow. 

In 2020, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the company announced that it would close over 400 of its locations in North America due to the losses sustained. Later in 2020, Starbucks announced that they’re planning to increase their store count by 55,000 by 2030. 

Between 2011 and 2019, Starbucks’ revenue doubled. However, it fell by a third in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The company is ranked 114th on the Fortune 500 and 288th on the Forbes global 2000. 

Famous Starbucks trademarks 

Starbucks has numerous trademarks, and we’ll look at some of the most well-known.

Starbucks Logo 

The Starbucks logo has changed over the years but usually features a 16th-century Norse-inspired mermaid. 

Over the years, the fishtail has changed shape and size, and the primary color has been changed to green. In 2006, a spokesperson for Starbucks said that the logo is an image of a ”twin-tailed mermaid, or a siren as she’s known in Greek mythology”. To celebrate 35 years in business, the vintage logo was reintroduced in early 2008 but caused some controversy due to the siren’s ”nudity”. 

In January 2011, Starbucks announced that it would make small changes to its logo, removing the Starbucks wordmark around the siren, enlarging the siren image, and making it green. The first use of the mermaid logo dates back to 1971, though it has changed over the years, several registered trademarks are registered for this logo, covering the following categories: 

  • Herbal tea, cocoa, spices, coffee.
  • Goods and services coffee distribution services and retail store services. 
  • Coffee bar services. 
  • Restaurant services include coffee and espresso beverages and serve sandwiches and breakfasts. 
  • Hand-operated coffee grinders and mills, non-electric coffee makers, insulated cups. 
  • Nonpaper coffee filters and beverage stowaways. 
  • Thermally insulated bottles. 
  • Ground and whole bean coffee. 
  • Watches and jewelry. 
  • Powdered chocolate and vanilla. 
  • Muffins, pastries, cookies, bread. 
  • Granola and candy. 
  • Espresso makers and percolators. 
  • Ice cream.
  • Pet clothing. 
  • Tote bags and book bags. 
  • Single-use coffee pods. 
  • Toys, including stuffed toys and plush toys. 
  • Customer loyalty programs. 
  • Entertainment services include the presentation of lectures in the field of news, politics, current events, human interest, and more. 
  • Temporary use of online non-downloadable software enables users to program audio, video, text, and other multimedia content. 

Starbucks (word mark). 

Starbucks has trademarked their brand name; the specific wordmark ”Starbucks” was registered with the USPTO in 1985. The trademark covers the following categories: 

  • Coffee cups, canisters, mugs. 
  • Tea, coffee, and brewed drinks. 
  • Coffee distribution and retail services. 
  • Single-use coffee pods. 
  • Powdered chocolate and vanilla. 
  • Flavoring syrups. 
  • Baked goods such as muffins, scones, biscuits, cookies, and cakes. 
  • Ready-made mixes for home baking. 
  • Packaged foods, sandwiches, and prepared foods. 
  • Confectionary items.
  • Pet clothing. 
  • Tote bags and book bags. 
  • Toys, including stuffed toys and plush toys. 
  • Customer loyalty programs. 
  • Jam and other spreads. 
  • Juices, soft drinks. 
  • Electric appliances such as kettles, coffee makers, espresso makers, and coffee grinders. 
  • Non-electric appliances such as hand-operated coffee grinders and coffee mills. 
  • Insulated beverage and coffee cups. 
  • Insulated vacuum bottles. 
  • Aprons and other clothing. 

Starbucks coffee (word mark) 

Another notorious wordmark owned by Starbucks, this one was trademarked in 1995. The Starbucks coffee trademark applies to the following categories: 

  • Wholesale supply in goods and services, including ground and whole bean coffee, tea, cocoa, and espresso beverages. 
  • Confectionery items. 
  • Collapsible cup carriers and caddies. 
  • Nonpaper coasters. 
  • Insulated vacuum bottles. 
  • Coffee cups and teacups.
  • Glassware, plates, cups, and bowls. 
  • Coffee shop services. 

Starbucks rewards 

 Starbucks® Rewards is a rewards scheme designed to reward customer loyalty with discounts and other perks. The Starbucks app is a convenient way to place an order. Rewards are automatically earned, and you can customize/place your order, then receive a notification that will let you know it’s time to pick up your order, all without waiting in line. Starbucks officially registered the trademark in 2019 after Starbucks filed the trademark application in 2015. The brand covers the following categories: 

  • Gift cards, magnetically encoded gift cards, computer application software for mobile devices such as cellphones. 
  • Pay for purchases via cellphone functionalities. 
  • Business and management assistance. 
  • Reward incentives and other loyalty perks. 
  • Financial services, namely, stored-value card services. 


The Frappuccino is one of the most successful beverages that Starbucks offers. Starbucks first used this service mark in 1991. Since purchasing The Coffee Connection in 1994, Starbucks has had exclusive rights to the Frappuccino beverage name. The mark covers the following area: 

  • Tea, coffee, and espresso beverages, beverages made with a base of coffee, ready-to-drink coffee, and milkshakes/frozen confections. 

Summing Up 

Trademark infringement is a serious issue that can cost billions of dollars. Thankfully, trademark laws give you a crucial legal framework to protect your intellectual property. However, you can only make use of these protections with trademark registration. With around 200 marks registered with the trademark office, it’s fair to say that Starbucks takes the risk of copyright infringement very seriously.

Xavier Morales, Esq.

About the Author:

Xavier Morales, Esq.

Mr. Morales founded this trademark law practice in January 2007 with the goal of providing intellectual property expertise to entrepreneurs and businesses around the country. Since then, he has filed more than 6,000 trademarks with the USPTO. You can learn more about Xavier here.

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