New Zealand Court Rules in Trademark Shape Case

by T+B Blog Team on December 23, 2013

In a case that could have a broader impact on legal cases over trademarked shapes, a New Zealand court ruled in favor of a company that used bottles that Coca-Cola claimed resembled the shape of its own.

The company, Frucor Beverages Ltd, is the bottler of Pepsi products in New Zealand. Coca-Cola claimed that Frucor had infringed on three of its trademarks by using a similarly shaped bottle. The company also claimed that Frucor misrepresented its soda as a Coke product, claiming a breach of fair trading law, according to the The New Zealand Herald.

The court supported Frucor’s argument that its bottles were sufficiently different from Coca-Cola bottles and clearly marked with Pepsi’s brands. In the ruling, the court questioned why Coca-Cola had taken nearly a year after the bottles were introduced to protest their shape and why the company had not taken legal action in any other country where the products were sold.

The judge considered the two products as a whole, “because the average consumer normally perceives a mark as a whole, and does not proceed to carefully analyse its various details,” he said. The question of similarity in the bottles’ shapes centered on their “waists,” which the court said, “are not the same or even substantially similar.” You can read the full judgment here.

What other cases are you aware of about a trademarked shape?

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