Dumb Starbucks protected by parody law, comedian Nathan Fielder says

The comedian behind the Dumb Starbucks in Los Feliz told reporters during his big reveal Monday that he doesn’t need permission to use the real company's logo because he’s operating under parody law.

Nathan Fielder, whose "Nathan for You" show airs on Comedy Central, gave his comments in the waning moments of his shop before the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health shut it down Monday evening for operating without a health permit.

The biggest question among those who had seen the shop was who was behind the faux Starbucks at the Hillhurst Avenue strip mall and why. 

Some believed the whole thing was a TV prank, and some even singled out the Comedy Central reality series "Nathan for You."


The brainchild of Fielder, "Nathan for You" is best known for its gags that use small businesses to trick customers. In one of his best-known bits, the show got a gas station owner to offer extremely low prices, as long as customers delivered a rebate form to the top of a mountain.

Even before the storefront was closed by county health officials shortly after the news conference, the faux store had caught the attention of the real Starbucks. Though Fielder said the corporation hadn't contacted him personally, they have made statements through the media.

"I am going to say if they keep the pressure up they do risk losing me as a customer," he said.

The real Starbucks said earlier Monday that it was looking into the parody coffee shop, which quietly opened Friday.

"We are evaluating next steps and while we appreciate the humor, they cannot use our name, which is a protected trademark," said Zack Hutson, a spokesman for the company.

Twitter: @Sam_Schaefer