• By
  • Eric Morath

Starbucks Corp.’s Seattle’s Best Coffee unit said Borders Group Inc.’s plans to reject store leases and abandon property could damage the java seller’s brand name and expose its trade secrets.

Seattle’s Best lodged a protest to the book retailer’s move to close about 200 stores with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan because the plan doesn’t properly address how the Seattle’s Best cafés that operated in most of those Borders locations will be dealt with.

Seattle’s Best said its “interests will be materially affected by the closing” of Borders stores and it “may need to take steps to protect those interests, particularly with respect to its trademarks, trade dress, and trade secrets.”

The coffee company didn’t specify the nature of those trade secrets–perhaps how to whip up the perfect latte? But it did say that it provided training and “proprietary information” to the Borders employees who worked the cafés so that Seattle’s Best “beverages are prepared in accordance with SBC trade secrets.”

Seattle’s Best also fretted in court papers about the fate of everything from coffee cups to espresso machines that bear its logo and may be left behind in soon-to-be-dark stores.

For example, landlords who receive back the closed stores once the Borders’ leases are broken “should not be authorized to continue operation of a café in a current location using SBC trademarks and processes,” Seattle’s Best said.

Borders spokeswoman Mary Davis said the company “is committed to working with its vendors,” but declined to specifically comment on Seattle’s Best’s objection.

The Ann Arbor, Mich., bookseller filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last month with plans to start shutting down 200 of its 642 stores.

In addition to Borders locations, Starbucks serves up Seattle’s Best-branded beverages in such locations as Subway restaurants, AMC Entertainment Inc. movie theaters and aboard Delta Air Lines planes.