SOUTH AFRICA: Red Bull faces lengthy trademark battle

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Legal wranglings may see a battle between the energy drink Red Bull and a look-a-like product stretch out over a number of years, said a lawyer for Red Bull today.

Red Bull has been involved in a number of legal battles against products it has claimed has infringed on its trademark around the world. In most cases Red Bull has been able to wrap up proceedings with little trouble.

However, a similarly-labelled South African drink Mad Bull is refusing to withdraw its product or cange its labeling, even after two court rulings against their use of the bull image in their branding.

However a lawyer for Red Bull was quoted by Reuters today as saying: "Every time one of these brands crops up, we bash them... Usually they withdraw when we send them a letter."  But he said South Africa's privately-owned Mad Bull was using every legal trick in the book to keep up production. He said legal wranglings may allow their competitor to keep selling for as much as another year.

A Pretoria High Court has found Mad Bull owner Rizo Investments in breach of the internationally renowned Red Bull trademark and ordered it to cease using the trade name Mad Bull, two months ago.

Rizo Investments (Pty) LTD from Johannesburg launched Mad Bull in 2000 and was shortly thereafter approached by representatives of the Austrian-based Red Bull to desist from using the name. It failed to do so, leading to the court action.

Red Bull brought the application, based on the registration and use of its trade mark and while Mad Bull freely accepting the local and international Red Bull label, denied its choice of name and product-get up was calculated to either deceive or confuse.

It argued that the word bull was one that was incapable of legal protection on the basis that one of the main ingredients in some energy drinks was the amino acid, "taurine" and that the Latin word for bull was Taurus.

Companies: Red Bull

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