A popular Starbucks coffee mug has upset descendants of a Song Dynasty judge, the Jianghuai Morning News reported on Wednesday.
During trial operations for its first store in Anhui Province on Sunday, Starbucks released a unique mug especially for the capital city with a sketch image of Bao Zheng, commonly known as “Bao Gong.”
The upright and incorruptible Bao Zheng (999-1062) was born in present-day Feidong county near Hefei during the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127).
The 90 yuan ($14) mug features a stern-faced Bao clad in traditional official attire sitting on a judge’s chair with the text “Hefei, Starbucks Coffee.”
About 700 mugs were sold in the first day, the Hefei-based newspaper reported.
The mugs vilified Bao as the portrait had a foreigner’s face, said 36th-generation descendant Bao Xun’an, head of an association that studies and promotes Bao’s spirit of justice and integrity.
As registered holders to the image rights of Bao Gong in April, Bao Xun’an requested Starbucks unconditionally stop selling mugs and withdraw all the unsold ones.
The image on the mug was created by a design team of the mug supplier in accordance with a portrait from Bao Gong temple, said Starbucks public relations manager Li Jing. The copyright belonged to the design team, Li said. “Starbucks have ever registered many trademarks. We respect intellectual property rights.”
The three trademarks owned by the association are all in the name of “Bao Shi Da Zong,” not “Bao Gong,” according to a Xinhua report. Selling Bao Gong mugs is not listed in their ratified service items.