Did Starbucks Steal the Unicorn Frappuccino from a Brooklyn Cafe?
According to a new lawsuit from the owners of The End in Brooklyn, yes
Even though the Starbucks Unicorn Frappuccino is no longer available, the backlash to the now-infamous rainbow drink is ramping up. The owners of a Brooklyn cafe are suing Starbucks, claiming that Starbucks stole the idea for the Unicorn Frappuccino from their store. The End Brooklyn started selling its Unicorn Latte in December 2016, and the multicolored drink quickly went viral, featured by the New York Times, Gothamist, and myriad Instagram accounts. The owners of The End even filed paperwork for a trademark on the Unicorn Latte in January 2017, though the application is still pending, according to the New York Post.
In their lawsuit, the owners of The End claim that "Starbucks’ conduct has diluted the distinctive quality of [The End’s] famous Unicorn Latte mark and has and is likely to continue to confuse consumers into believing that Starbucks’ products are affiliated with, or are otherwise endorsed or approved by [The End], and vice-versa." They're therefore seeking monetary compensation and, as TMZ noted in its initial report, a public apology from Starbucks.
It's hard to ignore the striking visual similarities between The End's Unicorn Latte and Starbucks's Unicorn Frappuccino. As the owners point out in the lawsuit, as summarized by the New York Post and TMZ, both drinks are made with blue and pink layers, and neither drink actually has any coffee in it. The Unicorn Latte at The End is also topped with so-called "Unicorn Dust," which is hard not to compare to the "sprinkle of sweet pink and sour blue powder topping" on Starbucks' Unicorn Frappuccino.
But, if you ask me, the two unicorn-inspired drinks couldn't be more different. As the owners of The End explained to Coveteur, this "psychedelic-looking drink" is actually a health drink, influenced by Ayeurvedic medicine. "Comforting yet entirely unique and loaded with restorative ingredients, the unicorn latte takes your wellness practice to the next level,” The End's owners told the website in April. A venti Starbucks Unicorn Frappuccino, however, was loaded with 76 grams of sugar, making it decidedly not a health food.
The folks at The End declined to comment for this story, but a spokesperson from Starbucks told Extra Crispy in an emailed statement, "We are aware of the claims and believe they are without merit. The Starbucks Unicorn Frappuccino blended beverage was inspired by the fun, spirited and colorful unicorn-themed food and drinks that have been trending in social media." But honestly, I don't know if I'd want to lay claim to unicorn anything these days.