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Starbucks vs Starbox: It’s a win for the little guy as chain closes

Starbucks threatened legal action to force Naser Kamali to change his kiosk's name

30 October, 2020 — By Tom Foot

Naser Kamali at ‘Red’ Star Box Coffee

COFFEE giant Starbucks has moved out of a branch in Finchley Road, three years after demanding a nearby kiosk change its name.

In a move that was derided as being both heavy handed and petty, the multinational company said Star Box Coffee next to Swiss Cottage tube station could be in breach of trademark rules.

Ahead of its move into 145 Finchley Road, it had insisted the red hut could “weaken” its global brand and insisted owner Naser Kamali would face legal consequences if he did not remove the “Star” from his sign. Mr Kamali, fearing an expensive legal battle with the company, changed the name of his business to Red Star Box, but now the chain has shut down its store and moved out.

The 64-year-old said: “Lots of people have been coming telling me that Starbucks closed and that they are happy and will continue to support me here. I have always said they may have the ‘bucks’, but I have the people.”


He added: “I am happy that Starbucks has gone after the way they treated my stand, but I am upset for the staff who may have lost their jobs.

“It was always very crazy as firstly my kiosk was Star Box, completely different to Starbucks. Secondly I am red and they are green. And finally I am small and they are a giant.”

Starbucks has shut up shop in a nearby unit

Mr Kamali rents his tiny kiosk from Transport for London.

He used time off during the lockdown to write a 400-page auto­biog­raphy detailing his two years as a political prisoner in Iran before arriving as a refugee in London in the 1990s. Mr Kamali had operated for five years before Starbucks handed him a legal letter.

It had said: “Starbucks requests that you adopt a different trading name (not commencing STAR) and change the signage used at your premises, along with the stickers currently applied to coffee cups.”

The legal letter had boasted how Starbucks is the “leading retailer, roaster and brand of speciality coffee in the world, with almost 25,000 retail locations” and that Mr Kamali’s hut was using an “unauthorised” name.

The New Journal contacted Starbucks this week.

The company acknowledged our query but did not comment further on its departure from the Finchley Road unit. A sign hung around the door said “goodbye” to customers.

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