That’s what they wondered at Pepsico, the number 2 in the global market of human colas. When the cola giant took a look at the website of Pet C Cola, they knew it: not only does the name Pet C Cola sound very similar to Pepsi-Cola, but the manufacturer of the dog cola has also been heavily “inspired” by Pepsi in the design of its logo.
When the company behind the dog cola applied for trademark registration for the wordmark “Pet C Cola” in the US, it was met with opposition from Pepsico. Not surprisingly, the cola giant easily won the case, and Pet C Cola had to withdraw its registration. According to the US trademark office, consumers would immediately associate the brand “Pet C Cola” with the globally renowned brand Pepsi-Cola. This could potentially weaken the strength of the Pepsi-Cola brand and cause it to become diluted.
Logo is ‘eyebrow raising’
The trademark office heavily considered the choice of Pet C Cola to use a logo that closely resembled Pepsi’s. Although the logo was not included in the trademark registration, the trademark office believed it clearly demonstrated Pet C Cola’s intention to piggyback on the success of Pepsi. “Adoption of a color, font, and stylization with virtually identical elements to those used by Opposer for its PEPSI-COLA script mark is ‘eyebrow raising,'” stated the US trademark office. [Personally, I thought that this elegant Pepsi logo hadn’t been used for 60 years, but apparently it has been reintroduced since 2014, alongside the current Pepsi logo].
This case once again reinforces an important lesson in practice: stay away from well-known brands with your own brand. The scope of protection for well-known trademarks is extensive and often extends beyond a specific product category. Even if consumers would not be confused, you can still encounter legal issues. The mere dilution of a well-known brand is enough to constitute infringement.