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 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.
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.