A Los Angeles-based firm named Balmuccino alleged (again) in a lawsuit filed last week that the coffee giant stole its ideas and sources for a coffee lip balm product.
Starbucks responded via email, saying it "firmly believes[s] these accusations are without substance, and we look forward to presenting our position in court." This is the company's second suit attempt. According to Reuters, the first action was filed in 2019, but it was dismissed because the court determined that it "lacked jurisdiction," or lacked the ability to hear the matter.
According to Balmuccino's lawsuit, Starbucks "essentially stole" the lip balm idea when Balmuccino met with Mesh Gelman, the company's head of product development and an SVP at the time. According to the lawsuit, Gelman requested a lot of information on the device and stated that he would "run the idea 'up the flagpole.'"
Balmuccino was to be "duly paid and given appropriate credit" for the invention. The firm then says that in 2018, a supplier for the lip balm informed Balmuccino that it had received contact from Starbucks for a product with "similar" specifications to those offered to Gelman by Balmuccino.
According to the suit, Starbucks introduced a line of lip balms based on the S'mores Frappuccino in April 2019. According to the claim, the initial meeting came about because one of Balmuccino's workers, Samantha Lemole, "was" a sister-in-law of Dr. Oz, who subsequently linked her with Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz (who is currently transitioning out of the role).
ccording to Balmuccino, during the initial meeting with Gelman, they asked the executives to sign an NDA, but Gelman declined, stating that "the meeting and the items discussed therein were completely confidential, and that the relationship between Mr. Schultz and Dr. Oz