The Seattle Space Needle Is Suing A Small Coffee Shop. Here's Why

Besides rain, two of the things Seattle is known for is the Space Needle and coffee. The Seattle skyline wouldn't be the same without the iconic Space Needle, which stands 605 feet tall. The landmark debuted in 1962 for the World's Fair, per the Space Needle's official website. It was designed to fit the fair's theme of "The Age of Space." In 1999, it was named the Official City of Seattle Landmark.

Of course, Seattle isn't the birthplace of coffee, but the city is often associated with the caffeinated beverage. The Seattle Times says that the city is generally known as the coffee capital of the U.S., as the birthplace of Starbucks can claim starting the espresso and specialty coffee craze across the country. But it turns out mixing the two Seattle icons — coffee and the Space Needle — is not advised, as least as far as business goes. One Seattle business if finding out the hard way.

Lawsuit over landmark logo

The private company that owns the Space Needle is suing a small, local coffee shop for trademark infringement, the Seattle Times reports. Local Coffee Spot, which has four locations in Seattle, has a logo with a coffee mug and steam coming from the mug that seems to resemble the landmark's official logo. Karen Olson, who is in charge of the Space Needle's operations and marketing departments, told the newspaper that they've dealt with hundreds of companies regarding the improper use of the landmark, but it rarely makes its way to the courts like this one. Local Coffee Spot co-owner Beau McKeon said the Space Needle company reached out about helping them come up with a new logo but claimed they never followed up. "We feel very, very victimized as the small guys," he told the newspaper. "This is beyond bullying."

The Space Needle's website has a page that explains the trademark protection, as well as correct and incorrect usage of the landmark. For example, it's okay to use the entire Seattle skyline with the Space Needle in a logo but not the landmark by itself. The company says they take the responsibility of protecting the Space Needle's iconography seriously, and this lawsuit definitely proves it.