Trademarks are often key to a business's success and revenue. Litigation sometimes ensues when a business believes their intellectual property is being misappropriated. A recent lawsuit filed by a Texas-based company in federal court in Dallas against a smaller competing business over allegations of infringement of trademark highlights this situation.
Austin-based beverage company Big Red filed a lawsuit against a small beverage company from Pennsylvania, the Catawissa Bottling Company. Big Red accuses Catawissa of selling a product that is very similar to Big Red's flagship beverage. Big Red alleges that Catawissa's Big Ben beverage is "diluting" Big Red's trademark.
Big Red's CEO alleges in court documents that Big Ben was previously sold in a colored glass bottle, which did not show the beverage's color. However, the current packaging includes a clear bottle with labeling that Big Red claims is very similar to the Big Red Soda labeling. Big Red considers this trademark infringement and filed the lawsuit. Big Ben was not aware of the lawsuit being filed until a reporter told them, although the company was informed by Big Red of its intent to file suit if Big Red did not change the name and color of its product.
In a situation such as this, business litigation may be necessary to resolve the trademark dispute. The first step in protecting a trademark, of course, is to register it. Without proper registration a trademark owner may have a difficult time protecting their mark from misappropriation down the road. Working with a law firm experienced in trademark registration can help an entrepreneur protect the intellectual property vital to the business.
Source: The Dallas Morning News, "Dr Pepper-co-owned Big Red sues 86-year-old Pennsylvania bottler over its red cream soda," Robert Wilonsky, May 7, 2015