US coffee giant Starbucks has further strengthened the protection of its house style in the US after the United States Patent and Trademark Office accepted the registration of its green circle mark on a white coffee cup as a trademark.

Trademark registration accepted

Use of the circle in practice

USPTO had initially refused registration on the grounds that it was not an exact representation of the mark in use. However, when the company showed that it also used cups featuring a green circle alone, the registration went through.

Green circle alone

However, Starbucks’ attempt to also register the green circle mark independently (i.e. regardless of the shape and size of the cup) was refused. So there are still limits.The use of a dotted line in its application indicated that Starbucks wasn’t attempting to claim the shape of the coffee cup, but the green circle alone. However, because the green circle mark doesn’t create a “separate and distinct commercial impression” from the siren design, this registration was refused.

Registration green circle ‘alone’ refused