'Dumb Starbucks' owner revealed to be comedy personality

"Dumb Starbucks" coffee shop in Los Angeles Image copyright AFP
Image caption "Dumb Starbucks" has generated a lot of speculation about who is behind it

The owner of a parody coffee shop in Los Angeles called "Dumb Starbucks" has been revealed to be Canadian television comedy personality Nathan Fielder.

Mr Fielder appeared in person at the store to make the announcement, where he said there are plans to open a second outlet in Brooklyn, New York.

There had been widespread speculation that the store, which uses Starbucks' trademarks, was a publicity stunt.

Starbucks said they were aware of the store but denied any affiliation.

"We are evaluating next steps and while we appreciate the humour, they cannot use our name, which is a protected trademark," a Starbucks spokesperson said in a statement.

'Dumb iced coffee'

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption People lined up for hours for a free cup of "Dumb" Starbucks

Dumb Starbucks opened in a shopping centre on Friday and started giving away free drinks, generating long queues of people.

The decoration of the Dumb Starbucks was very similar to that of a real Starbucks.

The store front has the same green awning and round mermaid logo as Starbucks' coffee shops - except the word "Dumb" was placed in large letters above the word Starbucks.

The wall menu inside the pop-up store offered coffee that ranged from "horrible" to "bitter", as well as products called "dumb iced coffee" and "dumb white chocolate mocha".

The drinks were served in a white paper cup with a sticker of the Starbucks logo with the word "dumb" added to it.

None of the patrons was charged for drinks, although there was a tip jar.

'Parody law'

Image copyright Twitter
Image caption "Dumb Starbucks" has set up its own Facebook and Twitter pages

The Dumb Starbucks coffee shop has also set up its own Facebook page and Twitter handle, which has accumulated more than 8,000 followers.

On the micro-blogging website, it tweeted: "The owner of Dumb Starbucks will be making an in person announcement at our store (1802 Hillhurst Ave) today at 4pm. All are welcome!"

At the designated time, a YouTube video was posted on the Dumb Starbucks Twitter account, revealing Mr Fielder as the owner.

Mr Fielder is best known for his work on US television network Comedy Central and for encouraging fans to pull pranks.

While many have dismissed it as a publicity stunt, experts say the people behind Dumb Starbucks could face legal action over copyright infringement.

However, in the Dumb Starbucks store, the owners posted a statement at the counter stating that the store is protected by "parody law".

"By adding the word 'dumb', we are technically 'making fun' of Starbucks, which allows us to use their trademarks under a law known as 'fair use'," the statement said.

"In the eyes of the law, our 'coffee shop' is actually an art gallery and the 'coffee' you're buying is considered art. But that's for our lawyers to worry about."

After Mr Fielder's announcement, the cafe was reportedly shut down by authorities for operating without a valid public health permit.

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