Berkeley, California’s Supersonic Coffee is changing names. After three years under the epithet, the specialty coffee roaster is rebranding as AKA Coffee after threat of legal action from Sonic Drive-In for brand “dilution”.

In a statement released by AKA née Supersonic, Managing Director John Laird states:

When we received notice of Sonic’s intention to oppose our trademark application, we engaged one of the top IP firms in the country. After several months of legal communication it was clear that the fight against Sonic was going to be long and expensive.
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We are a small team trying to grow a specialty coffee company. Spending a huge chunk of our resources to fight against Sonic, a multi-billion-dollar company did not seem like a smart choice. The clearest path was to leave Supersonic behind, re-brand and continue forward with something new.

The press release notes that while the coffee roaster and the fast food restaurant occupy different market spaces, Sonic’s lawyers claimed potential for brand confusion “and stated—in no uncertain terms—that when Supersonic Coffee opened any retail operations, Sonic would pursue legal action to defend their trademarks.“

Artist depiction of Sonic's legal counsel
Artist depiction of Sonic’s legal counsel

Personally, I think Sonic’s claim has some legs. I can’t begin to count the number of times I was at the drive-in trying to get a nice cup of Chelelektu only to be given a chilidog instead. Or how I would go to the Supersonic website to order some of that good ice, from the back of the freezer (shout out to all my fellow former rollerblading Sonic carhops) only to be shut out time and time again.

Supersonic will begin roasting and shipping coffee under the new name starting October 24th with plans for a retail space to open in the East Bay some time in 2017. Their full statement can be found here.

Zac Cadwalader is the news editor at Sprudge Media Network.

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