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Did Café Bustelo Rip Off a Local Miami Coffee Campaign?

There are certainly a lot of similarities

Molina with Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado
Molina with Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado after he officially proclaimed 3:05 p.m. Miami’s coffee hour.
3:05 Cafecito Facebook

In 2012 culinary and lifestyle publicist JennyLee Molina started a #305cafecito campaign here in Miami. The campaign was to make 3:05 p.m. the official coffee break time of Miami and encouraged people to drink a cafecito (i.e. a Cuban-style espresso) at that time. The campaign took off in South Florida with Molina finding ways to monetize it through events, products, and popular social media accounts, with her even acquiring the federal trademark to the name, according to the Miami Herald.

But earlier this year Café Bustelo, which is owned by J.M. Smucker Company, hosted a very similar promotion where they had “Cafecito Time” celebrations at 3:05 p.m. at their pop-ups in places like New York, Chicago and Los Angeles.

Molina says she contacted the company in October asking for credit of the promotion, and she was told that it was a “free and fair use,” with Smucker’s reps saying in a statement to the Miami Herald that, “we do not believe that anyone has exclusive rights in celebrating a coffee moment at 3:05 p.m.”

Molina describes herself as “blindsided” by the response from the company, adding that she “just wanted to protect her trademark.” Molina says no legal paperwork has been filed yet, but that soon could change with the situation now being handled by Smucker’s legal team.

“I didn’t think it would come to a cease and desist letter,” Molina tells Eater Miami. “They’ve taken it to that [legal] level.”

And while Molina seems headed towards an intellectual property law fight against the company, she tells Eater that there is a silver lining to the situation.

“Everyone is coming together to defend what’s right,” Molina adds, including supporters calling for a boycott of the brand on social media and lawyers offering her legal counsel and aid on the matter. "I’m just full of so much gratitude for the support."