Gatorade Wins The SportFuel vs. Sports Fuel Case
Los Angeles – In August 2016, SportFuel filed a lawsuit against PepsiCo, Inc. subsidiary Gatorade for trademark infringement over Gatorade’s use of the SportFuel trademark in a marketing campaign. Now, two years later Gatorade has prevailed and will be allowed to continue its campaign.
SportFuel provides nutritional products and services to its clients including the Chicago Blackhawks, the Rockford IceHogs, and more from the small town of Western Springs, Illinois. SportFuel was founded in 1993 by Julie Burns who registered the SportFuel trademark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in 2008.
Gatorade created the sports drink industry in 1965 when the University of Florida founded the electrolyte-replacement formula. In 2001, Gatorade made its first launch of sports drinks and in 2004 it trademarked the Gatorade brand.
In 2015, Gatorade launched its new ad campaign “Gatorade The Sports Fuel Company” which gained a lot of attention, including the attention of SportFuel who in turn alleged that Gatorade was fully aware of SportFuel as a company and its SportFuel trademark.
The lawsuit goes on to say that Gatorade intentionally used the SportFuel trademark and requested that Gatorade stop using “Sports Fuel” in its ad campaign. The lawsuit also sought damages and any profits that resulted from the ad campaign in question. This was an important case for Gatorade since so many products had been printed with the “Gatorade The Sports Fuel Company” slogan.
Ultimately, U.S. District Judge Matthew Kennelly ruled in favor of Gatorade and stated that “sports fuel” is a descriptive term and that the evidence that Gatorade had knowledge of and intentionally used SportFuel’s trademark was inadequate to prove that Gatorade had acted in bad faith.
U.S. District Judge Kennelly continued to reason that “a picture is worth a thousand words.” When looking at Gatorade’s slogan, you see the large, bold Gatoade text commonly used by Gatorade along with the G-bolt design which makes the slogan distinguishable from SportFuel’s trademark. This led the court to the determination that consumer confusion is unlikely.
While SportFuel did not comment on the ruling, Katie Montiel Vidaillet, spokeswoman for Gatorade, stated, “We are pleased with the outcome of the case and look forward to continuing our mission to fuel athletic performance,” in an e-mailed statement.