UK
08/10/2013 12:09 BST | Updated 09/10/2013 12:33 BST

Starbucks 'Ripped Off' Bea's Of Bloomsbury's Duffins, Claim Furious Foodies

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Starbucks has been forced to admit that its new "duffin", a doughnut-muffin combination, was not an original creation despite the coffee chain's supplier registering it as a trademark in the UK.

Outraged food fans accused the chain of "ripping off" the idea from indie bakery Bea's of Bloomsbury, which has produced them under the exact same name and published the recipe in a 2011 cookbook.

Bea Vo, founder of the Bloomsbury delicatessen, told the Huffington Post UK that Starbucks was "attempting to take over rights of something they didn't create or really own".

She added: "It's like someone trying to trademark 'fairy cakes' or 'whoopie pies' or 'macarons'. Duffins have been in existence for years and they are trying to trademark something that has been in the baking lexicon documented for at least two years."

Last week, Starbucks unveiled its new doughnut-muffin hybrid, explaining that it came together after executives "sat together with our bakers and pondered how you could make a muffin go one step further."

The foodie furore caused a commotion on Twitter, as users fumed about "#duffingate" and accused Starbucks of imitating Bea's duffins.

In response to the outrage, Starbucks UK's Ian Cranna said: "Since launching, we have discovered there are other Duffins out there in the UK including at Bea’s of Bloomsbury, which is great news for muffin and doughnut fans across the country."

"It’s true that our supplier Rich Products, who created our fabulous Duffin has trademarked the name in the UK. However we’d like to make it clear that neither Starbucks nor Rich Products has suggested to Bea’s of Bloomsbury that they will attempt to stop them selling their own Duffins.”

Media lawyer Steve Kuncewicz told HuffPostUK that chains like Bea's could have "prior rights" over the Duffin name, however they were "caught out" by Starbucks' supplier Rich Products registering the trademark first.

Susan Hall, intellectual property specialist at law firm Clarke Willmott, said: "Bea's could use their prior use of the duffin name as a way to challenge the trademark being taken out by Rich Products, it would be relatively cheap. If they haven't got the registration, they could look at a case of 'passing off'."

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