Coca-Cola has threatened an Indian photographer with legal action. Sharad Haksar has displayed a photograph using Coke's logo on a billboard in Madras. The photo consists of a dry hand pump above a line of plastic pots with the company's logo in the background. He has been asked to remove the billboard and make an unconditional apology or face a legal suit and a damages claim of INR2m (US$46,000).

Haksar has worked on advertising campaigns for the company in the past.

"It's an infringement of our trademark, but we respect Haksar's right to creative expression and have been in discussions with him," a Coke spokesman told Reuters. "We hope to settle the issue amicably."

Haksar has said he is prepared to go to court over the matter. "I am not going to apologise as I haven't done anything wrong," he told Reuters. "It's my visual interpretation of the water shortage in Madras."

"They are my client, why would I do anything to hurt them?"

In a statement, the India Resource Centre voiced its support for the photographer. "Haksar's billboard highlights the severe water shortages being experienced by communities that live around Coca-Cola's bottling plants across India," the centre said.

"We appreciate Haksar's efforts and condemn Coca-Cola's attempts to silence a public discourse on the issues."