By: Mark R. Malek
As you may know, Coca Cola has one of the biggest trademark portfolios in the world and one of the most valuable trademark portfolios. I was told one time that everything that Coca Cola owned could literally burn to the ground and they could start over by taking the trademark portfolio to the bank. I would suspect that the Coca Cola trademark portfolio is worth somewhere in the Billions!
Of course, with a very valuable trademark portfolio comes a desire to protect it. As you can imagine, when Coca Cola found out about an energy drink that is sold in a red can with white lettering called “Cocaine” they got a little concerned. According to this article, Coca Cola filed an opposition to a trademark application for “Cocaine” in Chile. The first question that came to my head was why hadn’t Coca Cola opposed this mark in the United States. This may have been a trademark application that got by them. I do not expect Coca Cola to sit on their hands for this one. I suspect that if “Cocaine” continues to be sold in the US (the energy drink not the illegal drug), then Coke will file a trademark infringement lawsuit to put a stop to it.
I really do not understand this marketing campaign. The energy drink named “Cocaine” markets itself as “The Legal Alternative.” Yes, I am somewhat conservative, but this just doesn’t add up to me. What is the market they are trying to capture? Is it the punk that thinks it would be funny to bring a can of this to school and show his friends? If that is the case, then yes, I see this campaign working….until the kid’s parents get a call from the school administrator telling them that little Johnny has been suspended for having “Cocaine” in school.
A lawsuit that may be brought by Coca Cola will likely be based on trademark dilution. This cause of action is available to owners of famous trademarks, and seeks to prevent others from diluting the value of the famous trademark. I suspect that this would not have gotten on Coca Cola’s radar but for the red can and white lettering. That was probably the fatal move for “Cocaine” energy drinks. As a general rule, try not to mess with the company that has the Billion dollar trademark portfolio and that relies on their trademark portfolio as part of their success.