Starbucks, the global coffee powerhouse, is big in China and the domestic competition knows it. They also know the old adage “if you can't beat 'em, join 'em” but somewhere, somehow, something got lost in translation.
How else to explain the plethora of ersatz Starbucks coffee shops sprouting up across China despite the existence (since 2001) of a law enacted to protect international trademarks? If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, these 7 Chinese Starbucks ripoffs must really love Starbucks!
7) LUCKY COFFEE
The operators of this Chinese Starbucks knockoff are “Lucky” indeed to have an officer of the law on the scene to ensure China's copyright laws are being respected and upheld. Wait a sec, free delivery? Bring me Solo, the wookie and a vente mochaccino! (Fake Starbucks image via VIVA! W Magazine)
Let's see now, all stars are suns so all Starbucks must be Sunbucks... either I smell a frivolous lawsuit or my low-fat latte is ready. (Fake Starbucks image via Shanghaiist)
Is there a point where trolling Starbucks goes beyond merely copying? If there is, then we must be at Starsbuck, or the Qingdao Starsbuck Coffee F & B Co. to call it by its full name. What's the “F & B” stand for? “Fake & Bogus” is our guess. (Fake Starbucks image via An Pu Ruo)
The buck may stop here but the Bucksstar stops when the copyright infringement papers get served. Considering the number of fake Starbucks eligible for such action, we'd best order something while we wait. Barrista, we'll have a Ccinofrappu please, and make it a double! (Fake Starbucks image via Novel5)
The Xingbake Coffee Shop (“Xing” means “Star” in Chinese) holds a rare distinction: believe it or not, it was the losing party in a court case filed by Starbucks in 2004. China's legal system actually works! Oh, er, they're appealing the decision and in the meantime it's business as usual. (Fake Starbucks image via Yabber)
Just north of North Korea you'll find the friendly Chinese city of Harbin and their signature coffee shop, USABUCKS. Don't try paying for your fake Starbucks coffee with fake USA bucks, however, as they tend to frown on such shenanigans. (Fake Starbucks image via China Shutter Bug)
Taiwan's “Starbugs Beetles” may look like a blatant ripoff of Starbucks except for one thing: they don't sell coffee. They do offer bugs and beetles – the place is an insect pet shop! Too bad they don't serve coffee, though, as that would take the concept of a caffeine buzz to a new and frightening level. (Fake Starbucks image via Columbia University)
Lest anyone think China's cornered the market on fake Starbucks coffee cafes, the Palestinian owner of Ramallah's “Stars & Bucks Cafe” begs to differ. For that matter so do Vietnam's “Starblack” and “Five Bucks Coffee” from the Philippines. With all the rampant copying going on you'd think it must suck to be Starbucks but y'know, it's doubtful anyone at the Seattle HQ's crying in their brew. (Fake Starbucks images via Janelbot, top, and Asnyaro, above)