Coca Cola vs Coca Colla

The BBC today reports on the international expansion aspirations of a Bolivian drinks manufacturer that is marketing a new energy drink under the brand of “Coca Colla”. Apparently, the name was chosen because the drink is made from the coca leaf, and in honour of the Andean tribes called the Colla people, who cultivate the coca plants.

Oddly, the article focuses on the impact of international restrictions on trading products containing derivatives of coca leaf (the coca leaf is more commonly associated with cocaine, and is on the UN’s list of “dangerous drugs”) rather than the small matter of trade mark law. I’m not sure what trade mark laws apply in Bolivia, where the drink is apparently competing against a number of better known brands. However, I’m pretty sure that a well known Atlanta based soft drinks manufacturer would be miffed by an upstart selling a dark, sugary drink, in red and white branding under the name of “Coca Colla”, and would quickly be instructing its lawyers to raise proceedings for trade mark infringement!

This is slightly ironic as when lawyers explain to clients how trade mark law works, they often tend to give the hypothetical example of the world’s most popular soft drink and a rival sold under a confusingly similar name, using red and white packaging. It appears that it is now not so hypothetical after all.

See John’s previous blog for more on how trade mark law applies to these sorts of cases.

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