Starbucks to build high-profile venue? Files application for stadium naming rights

By Amirtha P S, Desk Reporter
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The American multinational chain of coffeehouses Starbucks has applied with the US Patent and Trademark Office for the right to use its name on a sports stadium or training facility.

In an application filed in early June, the coffeehouse chain sought approval to use its name in “providing stadium and training facilities for sports and entertainment activities” and “promoting business, sports and entertainment events of others.”

If approved, the Seattle-based coffee giant could join the companies such as AT&T, Bank of America, Canadian Tire, FedEx, Oracle, PPG Paints, Target, Toyota and United Airlines whose names are already filed to professional stadiums and arenas.

“Either it is actively looking to make a deal to sponsor a venue, or it wants to protect its right to potentially use its name in that manner,” said Ashley Dobbs, a law professor at the University of Richmond in Virginia who specializes in intellectual property. Meanwhile, Starbucks declined to comment.

Naming rights agreements often run for decades and can cost several or tens of millions of dollars annually. Companies are willing to spend a huge amount for brand awareness and fan loyalty that can be derived from a high-profile venue with the corporation’s name. 

Amazon took a different path from most corporate sponsors when it named an arena in downtown Seattle the Climate Pledge Arena. According to reports, the American eCommerce giant spent $300 million to $400 million on the rights. That building will house the Seattle Kraken expansion team in the National Hockey League, and the Seattle Storm of the Women’s National Basketball Association.

The US Patent and Trademark Office plans to assign a lawyer to review Starbucks’ application by early September. If the office has no objection, the coffee giant will have six months to show it is using its mark in commerce. The company may apply for extensions.

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