Among the many oddities that we are aware of surrounding the “Corner of Cranberry” (and there are quite a few), one of the silliest is alleged “copyright and trademark infringement”. Though that’s probably not the case, we’ve actually received a couple of emails about this, and a commenter “Capulets” brought it up again:
Check this out, that coffee place Uncommon Grounds must be affiliated with Seattle’s Best Coffee in some way. On the Uncommon Grounds site it says this:
Brooklyn hasn’t always been the center of the coffee universe, in fact the city once served as much bad coffee as the rest of the country. That changed when a group of passionate coffee lovers started a revolution.
And on the Seattle’s Best site it says this:
Seattle hasn’t always been the center of the coffee universe, in fact the city once served as much bad coffee as the rest of the country. That changed in the early 70’s when a group of passionate coffee lovers started a revolution.
Actually, that entire blurb on the Uncommon Grounds website was taken from the Seattle’s Best website, not just the quote above. (note: looks like someone noticed the above comment and took down the copy. You can view the full blurb here) And this isn’t an isolated case of vigorous copypasting. When Busy Chef first came onto the scene, the language used both on the website and in emails sounded rather “Marketese” for such a small operation. So, we did a little research. The initial Busy Chef promo copy we received, and at one time on the website, seems to be taken directly from a business called Cena To Go, a prepared gourmet foods franchise based in the Pacific Northwest. In fact, the Busy Chef slogan printed across its shop window is just Cena’s “Only at Cena..can you see, smell, touch, feel and TASTE the difference!” slogan with the name replaced. I guess since there isn’t a copyright symbol next to it means it’s fair game.
After inquiring about the then new business at the end of March, an email we received from “Michael Burak, Director of Marketing” of Busy Chef was very suspicious. It turned out it was a slightly edited copy of Boston Market’s marketing factsheet. This is the first paragraph of the email:
The Busy Chef, is based in Brooklyn Heights, and its goal is to become a leader in the fast-casual restaurant category, providing time-pressed consumers with great-tasting, convenient meals and fresh bakery items. The company will translate its passion for fresh, great-tasting food into two distinctly different concepts. Busy Chef restaurants – will be noted for their easy, convenient, home-style meals and bakery items. The company also is partnering with leading supermarket chains to bring restaurant-quality, Busy Chef-branded meals so shoppers can enjoy the one-stop convenience of purchasing ready-to-heat meals at the same time they do their grocery shopping. Busy Chef is a wholly owned subsidiary of Busy Chef, Inc.
And from the Boston Market factsheet:
Boston Market Corporation, based in Golden, Colo., is a leader in the fast-casual restaurant category, providing time-pressed consumers with great-tasting, convenient meals. The company has translated its passion for fresh, great-tasting food into two distinctly different concepts. Boston Market restaurants – 630 locations in 28 states – are noted for their easy, convenient, home-style meals. The company also partners with leading supermarket chains to bring restaurant-quality, Boston Market-branded meals into the deli department so shoppers can enjoy the one-stop convenience of purchasing ready-to-heat meals at the same time they do their grocery shopping. Boston Market Corporation is a wholly owned subsidiary of McDonald’s Corporation.
The rest of the email follows a similar pattern. (What’s also interesting about that email blurb is that “Busy Chef, Inc.” actually should be “The Busy Chef, LLC“).
We do not do SHEET CAKES. It’s just not what we do. We make ours round and with 3 layers sometimes 6 layers. If you need cake to feed a crowd, we suggest you get MORE THAN ONE! What a concept huh? You might even consider getting DIFFERENT KINDS so you offer a VARIETY.
And from the Layers Bakery site:
FIRST OFF, we don’t do SHEET CAKES. It’s just not what we do. We make ours ROUND and with 3 LAYERS, sometimes 6 layers (see coconut cake below). If you need cake to feed a crowd, we suggest you get MORE THAN ONE! What a concept huh? You might even consider getting DIFFERENT KINDS so you offer a VARIETY.
It all seems so silly to us: Why go through all this trouble for your nascent store to search, copy and paste from other existing businesses, when a simple “Hey, this is what we offer” would suffice?
UPDATE: “Dan” from Uncommon Grounds contacted us with this response:
Uncommon Grounds is a co-branded retailer of Seattle’s Best Coffee. To become a retailer of their product, a business must undergo a thorough “screening” process. Furthermore, partners of Seattle’s Best are required to replicate – in many contexts including the web – certain graphics and language in their promotional materials. Much of this is provided on a CD, and is taken verbatim from their website, brochures and press materials. You may find all of this information on their website: http://www.seattlesbest.com/services/foodservice.aspx
We have found an example of this: Seattle’s Best Austin, however the Uncommon Grounds site was not executed in the same manner.
Busy Chef spokesman Michael D. Burak answered us as well:
I am an avid reader of your blog, and your recent email was forwarded to me just moments ago. As you know we are small start-up business, and do not have big budgets for a full marketing and web design staff.
One of our employees designed our initial site, and provided copy. Including copy for me as well. Her intention was one of good, and it is my fault for not looking into this before posting.
We have removed all of the said text from our site, and apologize to you and the community for this mistake.
In starting a new business you learn allot, and we hope that we can regain your trust and business going forward.
On another note, Uncommon Grounds which is a wholesale customer of ours, and is not owned or operated by us in any way, is affiliated with Seattle’s Best Coffee, and it’s parent company Starbucks.