Dunkin Beat Starbucks…


But will Starbucks get the last laugh? Dunkin’ Donuts has a new campaign running on television and online touting the results of a national blind taste test in which Dunkin Donuts coffee apparently beat Starbucks coffee.

The most interesting part of this to me is that Dunkin’ Donuts chose to use the url DunkinBeatStarbucks.com, which is probably something that Starbucks won’t particularly like. I don’t recall another time where a huge company chose to use a direct competitors’ trademark in its domain name.


  1. I think the way that the site is used protects them from using a trademark in the URL. I view it as an extension to what a TV ad would read as.

  2. If I were Dunkin, I would hope and pray that Starbucks tried to sue us over the domain name. Think of all the free publicity.

    Very aggressive, and Starbucks has nothing to gain by engaging with a cheaper product. Anyway…I always thought we were paying for the comfy chairs and ambiance at Starbucks, not the coffee.

  3. I agree it’s bad PR for SB if they go after DD, and it would probably be a lot worse for Burberry if they went after Peta, it would just call attention to whatever pet-itarian complaints there are (petitarian.com still available).

    I do think that there should be a way for a company like SB to have some sort of response in this type of scenario… if this pays off for DD, you might see it with all bipolar industries, coke/pepsi, I guess we see it in some sense with PC/Mac…

    any thoughts on appropriate responses?

  4. what’s the trademark issue? use of the name alone is not a trademark issue – no one is confused w/ use of “starbucks” in the url – starbucks may file suit but i doubt it – from dunkin’s perspective, a suit from starbucks would be (in my best legal terminology) w/o merit and baseless.

    • @ Michael Carter

      I don’t think it would be in SBUX best interest to take any action for the publicity reasons alone. However, I still don’t know of many other cases where one company takes the liberty of using its competitors’ trademark in a domain name. I am not a IP attorney, but I am fairly sure there are considerations aside from the confusion issue. Dunkin’ Donuts would also have the First Amendment on its side.

      I was surprised to see a company the size of DD use SBUX’ trademark in a domain name. I haven’t see this type of thing from other F500s. Don’t know if its because of TM issues, common courtesy, or for other reasons.

  5. Quite interesting. Well, being a Starbucks guy, I have to wonder who really can appreciate that weak, watered-down Dunkin taste. Their doughnuts aren’t much either.

    That aside, I don’t think this will be a trademark issue, as ‘whoknows’ wrote, it’s the same kind of thing we saw in the ’70’s with the “Pepsi Challenge”. Probably not a trademark issue here.

    However, if Starbucks did make a big deal out of it, and won, it would show: 1) Starbucks has no sense of humor, and 2) we are in deep doo-doo if trademark issues become that stringent, as applied to domain names.

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