Red Bull Loses Trademark Infringement Battle in Europe

By Joseph Mandour on December 20, 2011

cans-thumb-200x149-32341 California – Austrian-owned Red Bull Energy Drink has lost a trademark infringement dispute with the 214-year-old Dutch company, Frisdranken Industrie Winters B.V..

The legal battle, which Red Bull took all the way to the European Union’s highest court, was sparked over the Frisdranken’s use of logos and text such as ‘Bullfighter’ and ‘Red Horn’ while filling cans of “Smart Drinks” packaged for another company. Red Bull, known for its red bull logo, sued the Dutch company for trademark infringement.

However, much to Red Bull’s dismay, the high court did not buy its argument, with the European Union Court of Justice declaring, “A service consisting of the mere filling of cans bearing a sign protected as a trademark is not use of that sign which is liable to be prohibited. The service provided by Winters consists of the filling of cans and this service does not have any similarity with the product for which Red Bull’s trademarks were registered.”

Manufactured and sold by the Austrian Red Bull GmbH, Red Bull was launched in 1987 by the Austrian entrepreneur Dietrich Mateschitz and is currently the most consumed energy drink in the world. Its slogan is “Red Bull gives you wings” and is marketed through advertising, sports team ownership, tournament sponsorship, and celebrity endorsements. In 1989, Red Bull was introduced to Hungary and Slovenia, its first international markets and the drink eventually expanded to the United States in 1997. In 2008, Forbes magazine listed founder Dietrich Mateschitz as the 260st wealthiest person in the world, with an estimated net worth of $5.0 billion.

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