'Dumb Starbucks' Shut Down; Comedian Revealed Behind the Scenes

Image: 'Dumb Starbucks' Shut Down; Comedian Revealed Behind the Scenes Nathan Fielder of the Comedy Central show "Nathan For You" comes forward as the brainchild of "Dumb Starbucks."

Tuesday, 11 Feb 2014 04:37 PM

By Morgan Chilson

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The Dumb Starbucks store, a brainchild of comedian Nathan Fielder, opened last week in Los Angeles but was shut down Monday by the city’s health department, the Los Angeles Times said.

The coffee shop, which was shut down for operating without a health permit, popped up in L.A., and promptly had lines out the door, The Los Angeles Times said, leaving everyone wondering who was behind it.

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A news conference finally cleared the air when Fielder, a comedian in “Nathan for You” on Comedy Central, admitted he’s the owner.

"There have been lines around the block, and very few small businesses get that from the start," he told the Times, attributing at least some of that to the Starbucks name.

Although it looked like a Starbucks with the exception of “dumb” on the name, it was not a corporate Starbucks store.

Fielder was giving away his products, which varied from Dumb Frappuccinos to Wuppy Duppy Lattes, for free, but even a nonprofit concept probably won’t fly with the real Starbucks, the Times said.

In an email to USA Today, a Starbucks spokesperson said, “We are evaluating next steps and while we appreciate the humor, they cannot use our name, which is a protected trademark.”

USA Today talked to people who crowded to the store, some just to take pictures, and many said they hoped Starbucks left the store alone and consider it free branding. The store itself was designed to look exactly like corporate Starbucks stores, with the exception of “dumb” in front of everything.

In a handout at the store, Fielder said it was fair use to make a parody of the brand.

Attorney Aaron J. Moss told the Los Angeles Times that Dumb Starbucks is “is copyright and trademark infringement on steroids.”

"Simply calling something a 'parody' does not provide some kind of magical protection against infringement," he told the Times.

Whatever happens, Fielder made a splash.

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