just the facts – Disputes between drinks firms
In 1996, Hangzhou Wahaha Group Co, a leading beverage producer in China, began a joint venture with Danone Group to form five new subsidiaries. However, Wahaha is now part of a long-running trademark dispute with Danone, with the French group alleging that Wahaha illegally copied products and sold them outside of the venture. Wahaha said in June that a it had won a fresh ruling in the Hangzhou Intermediate People's Court of Zhejiang Province, China, claiming the dispute was "finally settled". Danone had other ideas though and said the long-running dispute was "far from finished".
Proctor & Gamble launched a lawsuit against Coca-Cola in 2002, not long after the drinks giant withdrew from a US$4bn joint venture that would have united Minute Maid with the Cincincatti-based company's Sunny Delight brand. Coca-Cola began selling calcium-fortified orange juice in 1987, and it was alleged that the technology being used in its Minute Maid juices was the same as that licensed by P&G exclusively to PepsiCo for its rival Tropicana product. Coca-Cola refused to remove the drink from shelves and subsequently settled with P&G over the patent infringement lawsuit a development that opened the way for potential collaborations in the future.
In 2002 PepsiCo attempted to dissolve its joint venture with Sichuan Yun Lu, a government-backed company, when it became suspicious funds were being misused. PepsiCo demanded that the company stop using its brand name and stop producing the drink, after eight years of cooperation. Sichuan Yun Lu responded that it was filing for arbitration with a government trade body threatening to report "all the illegal activities" of PepsiCo, claiming the company should be punished for "damaging the national interests of China" and accusing it of "commercial hegemonism", "personal attacks" and "bullying tactics". The arbitration process took one-and-a-half years to resolve with Sichuan Pepsi leaving a door open to work again with PepsiCo in the future.
In Spain in 1999, Bacardi and the Arechabala family sued Havana Club Holding, the joint venture between Pernod and Cuban Government-controlled Cubaexport. It also jointly sued the Republic of Cuba, Havana Rum and Liquors and Cubaexport. Bacardi unsuccessfully asked Spain's Court of First Instance to annul transferral of the trademark rights from the Arechabala family to Havana Club Holding. Most recently in the long-running and international Havana Club dispute, the US District Court for Columbia dismissed a challenge by Pernod and Cubaexport to Bacardi's Havana Club rights in the US. Spain's Supreme Court is now to hear an appeal by Bacardi for the rights to the Havana Club rum trademark in Spain. The appeal will be the latest stage in Bacardi's battle to gain trademark rights to Havana Club in Spain.
In 2007 Anheuser-Busch signed a US import deal with Czech arch-rival Budejovicky Budvar. However, the two companies have been at loggerheads for many years and in many countries over the rights to the Budweiser name. Legal wrangling in the UK between A-B and Budejovicky Budvar ended in a draw when a British Court of Appeals ruled that both companies could use the Budweiser name. In the 1970s, both companies began marketing their Budweisers in Britain, and the Czech firm successfully applied to register Budweiser as a trademark. Despite the "danger of confusion" facing the beer-drinking public, three Court of Appeal judges ruled that the names Budweiser and Bud belonged to both breweries.
It's been a good week for global beverage and snack maker PepsiCo as it booked a 16% increase in full-year profits on Thursday (11 February)....
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