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Red Bull vanquished by Bad Bull in Swedish trademark battle

The Local/gm · 4 Aug 2011, 14:56

Published: 04 Aug 2011 14:56 GMT+02:00

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The case emerged back in 2007 when Red Bull complained to the the Swedish Patent and Registration Office (PRV) about Bad Bull's branding.

The beverage firm demanded that Bad Bull, a company based in Borlänge in central Sweden, have their trademark be revoked.

However, PRV remained unconvinced that the brands were overly similar and dismissed the complaint found in favour of Bad Bull.

Undeterred, however, Red Bull refused to give up the fight and took the case to the Court of Patent Appeals (Patentbesvärsrätten).

Red Bull has based its case on what it contends are phonetic similarities between "Red" and "Bad" when they are pronounced in certain Swedish dialects.

In addition to concerns that the names of the two company's sounded similar in spoken Swedish, Red Bull also argued that a “red” bull can be seen as “angry” and as such a “bad” bull.

"The colour red signals aggression and strength, especially in combination with the word 'bull', but is also associated with blood, passion, courage, and rage. This according to a citation in the encyclopedia Wikipedia's English entry about the colour red," Red Bull argued, according to court documents reviewed by The Local.

"The word 'bad' in combination with 'bullä refers in a similar way to an aggressive, evil, animal."

As a result, Red Bull contended that, "conceptually speaking, the trademarks are very similar".

Red Bull were also unhappy about the fact that they have spent a lot of money and effort promoting their brand at events and competitions which could lead to misunderstandings on the part of the audience if they were to see both brands.

“If the trademakr Bad Bull Entertainment should be used and registered for diverse events and leisure activities, it can't be ruled out that it could lead to the impression that such events are organised and sponsored by Red Bull,” the beverage company argued.

While the court conceded that Red Bull had made inroads into the Swedish market, it ultimately ruled that Bad Bull's branding was not similar enough to lead to misunderstanding and therefore found in favour of the Swedish event management firm.

Story continues below…

Despite the setback, the drinks firm nevertheless forwarded the case to the highest instance available, Sweden's Supreme Administrative Court (Högsta förvaltningsdomstolen).

However, the highest court announced last week that it was refusing to hear the case, Red Bull into retreat and bringing an end to the dispute.

The Local/gm (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

16:49 August 4, 2011 by Rick Methven
"Red Bull has based its case on what it contends are phonetic similarities between "Red" and "Bad" when they are pronounced in certain Swedish dialects"

And which dialect is that I wonder?

The dialect they speak up in Norrrödbullland.

Now if the company had been called Toro Rosso........
16:57 August 4, 2011 by Svensksmith
...or Red Ball. Now there's a logo I would (not) want to see.
18:44 August 4, 2011 by Rick Methven
Sounds painful
20:06 August 4, 2011 by Douglas Garner
No matter how you look at it, the publicity surrounding the legal action and even this article is GOOD for Red Bull, and probably has no impact on Bad Bull other than costing them for legal expense.
23:49 August 4, 2011 by Smallnose
Who would agree with the insulting proposed alternatives by the Red Bull-lawyers: Bad Knull and Bad Hål
10:27 August 5, 2011 by mamegoma
As long as Bad Bull isn't an energy drink just like Red Bull, I don't see the problem really.
17:41 August 8, 2011 by Garry Jones
They are very close and the Swedish courts have made a mistake. Until 5 minutes ago when I read the story I thought Bad Bull was the entertainment subsidary of Red Bull. As such and because of my close business connections with a competitor of Red Bull I would boycot all events by Bad Bull. Seems that Bad Bull would be more successful if they changed their name. Ironic!
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