Press Release August 20, 2021

Coca-Cola Wins Precedential Ruling Against Trademarks Posing as Popular India Brands

Alston & Bird client The Coca-Cola Company won a precedential ruling from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB), which granted the company’s petition to cancel two trademark registrations held by respondent Meenaxi Enterprise Inc. for “THUMS UP” and “LIMCA” — brand names that Coca-Cola has used in India for decades.

In a rare application of the Lanham Act’s Section 14(3), which allows for the cancellation of registrations if a trademark is being used to misrepresent the source of goods, the TTAB said Meenaxi registered the internationally famous THUMS UP and LIMCA marks in a blatant attempt to deceive U.S. consumers into believing that its soda products are the U.S. versions of the THUMS UP and LIMCA products sold by Coca-Cola in India.

The TTAB opinion said it was Meenaxi’s intent to cause consumers “to draw the logical conclusion that Respondent’s products in the United States are licensed or produced by the source of the same types of cola and lemon-lime soda sold under these marks for decades in India.”

The board also found it significant that Meenaxi’s activities related to THUMS UP and LIMCA were “not isolated instances, but instead form part of a broader pattern of copying the word marks and logos of others, particularly brands from India.”

In ruling in favor of Coca-Cola, the board repeatedly cited Bayer v. Belmora,  a case in which the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit granted Bayer AG’s request to cancel an American company’s U.S. trademark registration for Flanax — the name used in the Mexican market for Aleve — on the grounds that it was similarly misleading.

Representing Coca-Cola in the matter is an Alston & Bird team led by partner Holly Hawkins Saporito and senior associate Lauren Timmons of the firm’s Trademark & Copyright Group.  

The case is The Coca-Cola Company v. Meenaxi Enterprise Inc., case numbers 92063353 and 92064398, at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s Trademark Trial and Appeal Board.
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