Star Bock compromise

Texas browner battle Starbucks can sell beer from his cafe, but not elsewhere

Aug 22, 2005 - A bar owner can resume sales of his Star Bock beer but can't sell it regionally or nationally after a federal judge rules in his copyright dispute with the Seattle-based Starbucks coffee chain.


U.S. District Judge Sam Kent ruled that Rex Bell's sale of Star Bock beer or promotional items sold from the Acoustic Cafe "does not in any way infringe, unfairly compete with, dilute or otherwise impugn Starbucks brands or trademarks."

However the judge said that he could not sell out outside his Old Quarter Acoustic Cafe.

"It's a victory in the sense that Starbucks was trying to shut me out completely and they weren't able to do that," Bell told the Houston Chronicle Friday. "I imagine that Starbucks hates it that I can still sell my beer."

Bell said he would reopen his bar this weekend and likely have more Star Bock beer to sell in a few weeks.

Bell said he got the idea for his beer after a customer asked for one Texas beer, Lone Star, and changed his order to another Texas beer, Shiner Bock. He's said that when he joked he could serve a Star Bock beer, the idea for the beer was born.

He contracted the now-defunct Brenham Brewery to "tweak" the recipe for its Brenham Bock and make 100 kegs (a total of 1,550 gallons) for the Old Quarter. Bell put it on tap in 2002 and finally ran out of beer earlier this year. He talked about teaming up with another brewery to make the beer, and perhaps sell it far beyond his bar, but the ruling ends that possibility.

"We are pleased with the decision and think it is a good resolution for both parties," Starbucks spokeswoman Lara Wyss told The Associated Press.