Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

To The Barricades!

From today's Seattle Times:
A small coffee retailer in Bellevue has sued Starbucks, claiming the world's largest coffee-shop chain exerts an "insatiable and unchecked ambition" that amounts to being a monopoly.

Starbucks is undoubtedly big, with more than 12,000 stores and a goal of operating 30,000 worldwide. Still, experts say it will be a difficult case to win.


The suit, which seeks class-action status, was filed by attorney Steve Berman, who has pursued a number of large class-action cases. It asks that Starbucks stop the alleged anticompetitive conduct and pay attorney fees and other plaintiffs' costs.

"The courts ultimately want to look at whether conduct is beneficial to consumers, and here it's not, because consumers want choice," Berman said. "Maybe they'll choose Starbucks, but ultimately anyone in any market wants to be able to choose other products. That's the competitive evil Starbucks is perpetuating here on consumers."


Howard Shelanski, an antitrust expert and professor of law at the University of California, Berkeley, said the suit would be a hard case to win.

"Starbucks will say, 'We don't even have a monopoly in the building where we're the only coffee shop, because we compete with coffee makers in offices and conference rooms upstairs,' " he said.

The Seattle area has a thriving community of independent coffee merchants.
I expect PARD to immediately begin gathering petition signatures and picketing the Stadium Way Starbucks location, because as PARD spokesmodel Lu Laoshi has stated, Wal-Mart is also guilty of practicing "monopoly capitalism." I can see the press release now: MASSIVE MOCHA MAMMOTH ENDANGERS MOM-AND-POP!! BARISTA BEHEMOTH CREATES CAFFEINATED BLIGHT!! JAVA GIANT ENCROACHES ON SACRED LOCAL ESPRESSO STAND!!

C'mon guys, I'm waiting......*crickets chirping*

Of course, it's patently absurd to believe that either Wal-Mart or Starbucks have a monopoly. I can buy a pair of underwear or a latte at any number of places even here in little old Pullman. This just shows how some people in America get completely bent out of shape over "bigness" (and have too much time and money on their hands).

And it also illustrates once again the utter fallacy of picking on one company over another. Now we have funky, hip, urban, Democrat-donatin', rain-forest savin', politically correctified Starbucks being subjected to a class-action lawsuit. Being sued makes you guilty of absolutely nothing but being successful. Such is life in post-modern America.

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Paul E. Zimmerman said...

Ye gods... here we go again.

Don't these idiots ever get it? The only thing that comes out of moves such as this is a temporary dip in the stock price of the company. But maybe that's what they're after...

Well, off to add SBUX back to my stock radar screen.

April E. Coggins said...

I don't agree that their problem is with bigness. The same people have no problem with big government. The bigger the better. I think they have a problem with privately held success when they have no stake. Selfish, self-interest is the running theme with this mindset. If they can't have it, it should be outlawed. If they can have it, it should be restricted (so as not to water down their importance of having it). Big government provides this tiered social system for them. They can be exclusively important, all the while pretending to help the lower classes with free stuff that they themselves would never touch.

WSUStretch said...

What do we expect when we've all allowed frivilous lawsuits to continue unabaited for years?

Until those who bring these types of suits into our court systems are hit hard in their pocketbooks, all the rest of us will continue to have to pay higher prices for goods, insurance, ...

Is this not another reason to support tort reform?