Taiwan IP Court clears Starbucks Taiwan of infringement allegation by the Starbucks Cookie Straws
E190504Y1 | Jun. 2019（E235）
Starbucks Taiwan (run by Uni-Wonder Corporation; “Uni-Wonder”) launched a Frappuccino flavor, Espresso Bianco Frappuccino with cookie straw with an edible straw, Cookie Straw going with every Frappuccino purchase. However, a man surnamed Chiang, accused Uni-Wonder of infringement by the Cookie Straw. Chiang pinpointed that Starbucks’ Cookie Straw is similar to his utility model patent titled “edible straw” granted in 2014, in external design, wording for marketing, and functions advertised, and thus he sued Uni-Wonder over infringement and claimed damages in TWD1 million. The IP Court ruled in favor of Uni-Wonder in the first instance proceedings to clear the infringement allegation against Uni-Wonder, and Chiang appealed this case to the appellate court in the second instance proceedings.
According to the IP Court judgment, the edible straw designed by Chiang consists of starch-based rolled substance and two layers of edible gum. The starched-based rolled substance is a hollow tube consisting of several overlapping starched-based layers with edible gum fully covering the starch-based rolled substance on its internal and external appearance. Two layers of edible gum coating are to avoid the starched-based rolled substance from softening and damping. The combination of the edible gum and the starch-based substance not only generates no waste but also brings convenience because of their edibility. Starbucks Cookie Straws are rolled biscuits lined on the inside with chocolate ganache that is able to simply prevent the biscuits from damping and softening. Besides, Starbuck Cookie Straws do not contain the edible gum layer that will appear after baking nor does it have the function of Chiang’s edible straw that no external packaging is required at all. Therefore, the IP Court held that Chiang’s edible straw and Starbucks’ Cookie Straws are not identical in technology, function, and effect. (May 2019)