Coca-Cola Flips After Losing Legal Battle To Rival Over Indian Soda

Photo by Monica Silva on Unsplash

Sometime in the summer of 1994, lovers of Thums Up, the popular cola brand in India, were in for a rude surprise as their favourite drink disappeared from the store shelves. The brand was acquired by The Coca-Cola Company. For a long time, it was considered a ‘murder’ to diminish any competition that Coke faced.

The acquisition of Thums Up and Limca was the only way for Coca-Cola to enter India. Years later, the soda giant got involved in a legal affair by challenging U.S. trademarks owned by Meenaxi Enterprise for Thums Up and Limca, which Coca-Cola sells in India. 

Meenaxi Enterprises is operated by two Indian-American brothers who described their business as a “purveyor of and distributor of food products” that are “manufactured in India and distributed primarily to Indian grocers in the United States.” It obtained US registrations for the LIMCA and THUMS UP trademarks, initially claiming that it came up with the names independently. 

Coca-Cola filed petitions for cancellation of Meenaxi’s registrations in 2016, alleging that it was using names and logos of its popular soda drinks in India.

Back then, Coca-Cola emerged victorious. The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board found Coca-Cola could bring the case because Meenaxi’s products could harm the reputation of its drinks among Indian-Americans. It cancelled the registrations after finding Meenaxi was trying to “dupe” US consumers.

Things took a different turn years later when it was found that Coca-Cola Co’s sales of Thums Up and Limca sodas in India did not demonstrate any loss of sales. Hence, it did not justify revoking another firm’s US trademarks.

Further, the Federal Circuit reinstated Meenaxi Enterprise Inc’s US trademarks after finding that Coca-Cola failed to prove that it suffered any harm in the US that would give it a basis to challenge them.

Too long? Here’s a one-liner: Coca-Cola loses legal battle against rival Meenaxi Enterprises after challenging its US trademarks for Thums Up and Limca, which Coca-Cola sells in India.




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