Independent coffee shops complaining that Starbucks muscled in on their turf and waged unfair competitive practices are nothing new. Starbucks buying up the competition is nothing new. What is new today, however, is a class action lawsuit filed against Starbucks. It claims that, among other anti-trust practices, Starbucks signs exclusive lease agreements with property managers to lock out competition: Starbucks Accused of Abusing Monopoly Power in Violation of Sherman Act: Financial News – Yahoo! Finance.

This is, of course, what brought the successful Palo Alto Roasting Company to an end — among many other competitive chains and cafés. While there definitely seems to be a strong element of truth behind this accusation, how the courts interpret this may be different story. Starbucks has faced a multitude of similar suits prior.

For another version of this story from Reuters: Starbucks sued for squashing competitors | Reuters.com.

UPDATE: Sept. 26, 2006:
The Seattle Times published an article today on this story: The Seattle Times: Business & Technology: Starbucks sued over “unchecked ambition”.


UPDATE: Dec. 20, 2006:
The USA Today finally joined in on the act — discussing the legal need to demonstrate predatory practices and identifying a number of higher-profile cases where coffeehouses have been driven out of business by Starbucks: Owner of small coffee shop takes on java titan Starbucks – USATODAY.com.