Two of the most important components in any trademark infringement lawsuit are customer confusion and damage to the brand. If a defendant can prove both of these, he does not have to prove actual profit loss to collect damages.
In 2008, Los Angeles-based juice company Pom Wonderful filed a federal trademark lawsuit against Coca-Cola over several of their juice products. The suit alleges that Coca-Cola unfairly marketed their pomegranate-blueberry juices, which reportedly contained very little of either fruit juice.
In reality, the soda giant’s “pomegranate-blueberry” juice only contained .3% pomegranate juice and similar trace amounts of blueberry juice. Instead, their product was made up of mostly apple and grape juices.
Pom Wonderful’s lawsuit accuses Coca-Cola of falsely marketing the product to capture pomegranate sales after Pom Wonderful achieved success with their own product. The suit is alleging false advertising, unfair competition and trademark infringement.
Even though Coca-Cola did not use Pom Wonderful’s name when marketing their products, the juice company can still file a trademark infringement lawsuit. Federal trademark laws allow businesses to sue rival companies if they can prove that the competitor is damaging their commercial interests by falsely representing their products.
Coca-Cola has denied all charges, citing food industry laws that shield manufacturers from lawsuits as long as the label accurately lists all drink ingredients.
Two years ago, a federal judge in the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals threw out Pom Wonderful’s lawsuit, citing those same food industry labeling laws. However, on June 12, the Supreme Court upheld the validity of the lawsuit, overturning the lower court’s decision and clearing Pom Wonderful to take their case to trial.
A company does not have to steal your product’s name to damage your brand. Customer confusion is the main concern of any trademark infringement lawsuit, so if a competitor uses your image’s design, coloring or reputation to sell their product, they are infringing on your trademark.
Do not let a copycat profit from the brand you worked so hard to build. Call Klein Trial lawyers today to discuss your trademark case with an experienced attorney who knows how to protect your hard work and reputation. There is no cost for the first consultation, and our expertise could be the key to winning your lawsuit.
Did You Know: Companies are forbidden from using “identifying marks” from a competitor to deceive customers under unfair competition laws.
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