In Algeria, the concept of intellectual property seems to be a vague and unnecessary nuisance. So, when multinational corporations hesitate to set up shop in the country, no worries – why not create clones of international brands and try to pass off the fake as the real deal?
In recent days, the city of Oran has been buzzing with excitement. The American brand Starbucks Coffee supposedly opened its doors there. Videos are flooding social media platforms, attesting to the opening of the renowned coffee shop. It’s all there: from the logo featuring the crowned mermaid with two fishtails to the iconic cups where busy baristas scribble customer names and the various coffee and tea offerings from the Seattle-based giant. Even the store’s design borrows heavily from the world’s largest coffee chain.
But several shadows loom over this nearly perfect picture. Not only has the American brand made no official announcement regarding this new venture on the African continent, let alone in a new country, but the chaotic opening of this Oran-based Starbucks Coffee raises suspicions.
And for good reason, as the Algerian online community reports, shortly after its grand opening, this particular Starbucks closed its doors three hours earlier than the scheduled closing time for two consecutive days, apparently overwhelmed by the influx of customers. “There’s a one-hour queue, and many couldn’t even place an order because everything was sold out after a few hours!” declare comments on social media, accompanied by videos bearing witness to this peculiar phenomenon. Another point of contention: is the exorbitant prices charged by the Oran-based establishment.
So, is it a copy or the real deal? This is the question on the minds of Algerians who don’t seem quite convinced. They are accustomed to these sleights of hand in a country where international rules of intellectual property are rarely adhered to. “Is the parent company even aware of this?” jests one Algerian netizen, while another suggests they “got the recipes from YouTube.” These doubts are further justified by the fact that Starbucks’ official website makes no mention of any opening in Algeria.