When the zero-calorie coke debuted in June 2005, it became Coca Cola’s most successful new product launch since Diet Coke in 1982. The argument that has since erupted between another fizzy drink giant – Dr Pepper – is whether the word ’zero’, in this context, is exclusive to Coke.
The case of Royal Crown Company Inc. v the Coca Cola Co. has seen judges look further into the meaning and exclusivity of the ’zero’ label. In the United States, trademark law – when a business uses a name or logo in commerce – entitles a brand to acquire it automatically. Coke has argued that, due to its extensive marketing, consumers would associate the word ‘zero’ with its product.
The US court of appeal has since granted Dr Pepper the opportunity to challenge Coke’s 17 uses of ‘zero’, on the basis that it’s a generic, common word – so shouldn’t be a trademark.
It is yet to be seen whether Coke will win the rights to the trademark in what could be a landmark decision – and something that’lll cement its spot as leading market provider of fizzy drinks. Watch this space.
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