Created in 1915 by Earl R. Dean, the Coca-Cola bottle is a packaging icon. Moreover, it is the classic example of how a shape can become trademark. But Pepsi, allegedly, has been bottling their cola in a similar shaped bottle. War? War! And the decision is today!
Of course, there is similarity between the Coca-Cola bottle and Pepsi’s new bottle. But there are also some differences, such as the extent of the ‘pinch’, the fact that Pepsi’s bottle seems more heavy at the top, and the location of the grooves on the bottle.
The Australian court – this case is set Down Under – has had their hands full on this one. There are major stakes and the parties in question are one the biggest pair of rivals we know.
The functional aspects of the bottle will most likely be decisive. In Australia, the Courts are quite reluctant to grant extensive trademark protection to functional products. The court will explore whether the design elements aren’t also functional: is it easy for consumers to hold the Pepsi / Coke bottle because of the design? And is it fair that Coca-Cola monopolizes this aspect?
Pepsi will lean heavily on its own strong brand recognition, in order to overcome any possible consumer confusion. Coca-Cola knows it has to enforce its IP right, otherwise, it might lose it.
Normally people are either in the Coke-camp, or in the Pepsi camp. Let’s see which camp the Australian judge is in. The decision is expected today.