Legal fees cover the services provided by lawyers to their clients, which may be in form of advice, research, resources, and time. Initial fees may be charged for advice and case reviews, while ongoing matters have retainer fees that cover a range of services on a periodic basis. Legal fees are not standardized, and vary from firms to individuals. They are determined by the reputation of a law firm, the education level and experience of the attorney dealing with the case, the difficulty and novelty of the matter, overhead expenses as well as other aspects of the service.
Recently, in the case of STARBUCKS CORPORATION v. TEAQUILA A FASHION CAFE & ANR, the Delhi High Court has awarded damages valuing Rs. 2 lakhs and an amount of Rs. 9, 60,100 for the legal fees incurred in favour of Starbucks Corporation in a trademark infringement suit filed by it over the violation of its registered trademark 'FRAPPUCCINO'.
Starbucks Corporation (“Starbucks”) incorporated in the year 1985, has been using the mark FRAPPUCCINO and its variations for its cold beverages throughout the world in several flavours and the said mark is registered in over 185 countries and territories in different classes in relation to various goods and services.
TeaQuila – A Fashion Café (“TeaQuila”) is a cafe based in Jaipur, Rajasthan which offers and serves multi-cuisines like Chinese, Italian and Lebanese. In addition to the cuisines, TeaQuila also serves beverages of different varieties.
The cause of action which triggered the filing of the suit arose when Starbucks found out that TeaQuila was infringing its trademark of “FRAPPUCCINO” and selling beverages under the names 'BUTTER SCOTCH FRAPPUCCINO' and 'HAZEL NUT FRAPPUCCINO', without any permission, authorization or license from Starbucks. The Delhi High Court on an earlier date had granted an interim injunction in favour of Starbucks and had restricted TeaQuila from using “FRAPPUCCINO” under any circumstances by any of its franchises and associations in any manner. However, TeaQuila continued to sell the impugned products. Having no option, Starbucks filed a suit in the High Court seeking a decree of permanent injunction.
Starbucks contended that TeaQuila’s marks namely 'BUTTER SCOTCH FRAPPUCCINO' and 'HAZEL NUT FRAPPUCCINO' were deceptively and phonetically identical to their FRAPPUCCINO mark and the names of the beverages were conceptually similar to one of Strabucks’ hand-crafted beverage items 'SMOKED BUTTERSCOTCH FRAPPUCCINO' and 'HAZELNUT FRAPPUCCINO BLENDED COFFEE'. Starbucks submitted that due to extensive use, worldwide sales and marketing and quality of the goods sold under the said marks, it had earned not only formidable goodwill and reputation but had also garnered attention from national and international media and featured in various magazines and newspapers, including on websites.
The Court observed that Starbucks’s mark “FRAPPUCCINO” had indeed attained goodwill and was well-known among the consumers. The use of identical marks by TeaQuila was unauthorized and proved to be detrimental for the goodwill and reputation that Starbucks had earned. The Court further observed that, as the identical marks were used with respect to similar goods and through similar trade channels, hence the customer base was common. Therefore, the Court held that Starbucks had successfully established a case for the grant of a permanent injunction.
The Court calculated the units of each beverage sold by TeaQuila from the month of November, 2018 when this infringing activity came to the knowledge of Starbucks and awarded a sum of Rs. 2,00,000/-. Noting that Starbucks Corporation had filed the Advocates' Fee Certificate, the Court also awarded a sum of Rs. 9,60,100/- as the fee of the lawyers along with the Court Fee.


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