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Red Bull puts 'bullet' into rival in UK High Court trademark spat

By Ben Bouckley+

18-Jul-2012
Last updated on 19-Jul-2012 at 14:20 GMT

Red Bull puts 'bullet' into rival in UK High Court trademark spat

Red Bull has declined to comment on a successful UK High Court judgment that saw the judge rule that rival energy drink maker Sun Mark had infringed its trademarks with a beverage named ‘Bullet’.

A spokeswoman for Austrian firm Red Bull, Tina Deutner, told BeverageDaily.com that a report on the case by the UKPA was accurate. “There are no additional comments from our side,” she said.

Sunny Ahuja, operations manager, Sunmark, told this publication: "We are appealing the decision and as such it would be inappropriate to comment at this stage in case it prejudices the case."

The action against Sun Mark is the latest in a run of recent court battles fought by Red Bull to protect its trademark, as these two 2011 cases, in Holland and Canada , attest.

Red Bull launched an action against Sun Mark for (1) naming its drink ‘Bullet’, given Red Bull’s own ‘Bullit’ drink, and (2) advertising it using the slogan ‘no bull in this can’.

Sun Mark – which manufacturers a raft of little-known food and beverage brands beyond Bullet (pictured below), and also distributes products – and co-defendant shipping firm Sea Air and Land Forwarding, both disputed the claim.

But Mr Justice Arnold ruled that Red Bull’s trademark rights to the word Bullit and the words ‘Red Bull’ had been breached by its rival, which markets Bullet as an ‘energy drink with taurine’ that improves performance, stimulates metabolism and increases concentration and reaction speed.

Sun Mark’s use of Bullet created a “clear likelihood of confusion”, and added that the ‘no bull’ slogan took unfair advantage of the Austrian brand’s repute.

We understand that (disregarding Sun Mark's appeal) any order for an injunction against the firm will not appear for several weeks, so there is as yet no deadline determining when 'Bullet' must be removed from sale.

Sun Mark MD Rami Ranger claims on the Middlesex-based firm’s website that it distributes branded products from the likes of Unilever, Nestle, Mars and Cadbury worldwide.

Monster tackles fish hobby site

Monster Beverage Corporation also made the wires today in a trademark-related dispute, after it emerged it sent a cease and desist letter to fish hobbyist site MonsterFishKeepers.com on February 24 over its use of several 'monster' related marks and the letter 'M' on branded merchandise.

The website claimed that Monster was pushing it to drop trademark applications, and said it replied to the beverage firm stating that consumers were unlikely to mistake the brands due to their very different target markets, but the beverage firm replied in turn with further demands.

The fish hobbyist site was told it must abandon trademark applications for its 'M' marks, stop using them on merchandise, refrain from future use or application for any marks containing 'Monster' or the letter 'M', and pay Monster Energy Corporation legal fees related with the matter.

MonsterFishKeepers said it had "no intention of agreeing to the bulk of Monster’s demands, as these terms are extremely restrictive and unfair", while calling for readers to boycott Monster Beverage Corporation, and to contact the firm asking it to drop the issue.

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