MEENAXI ENTERPRISE, INC. v. THE COCA-COLA COMPANY
- Jun 29 2022 |
- Category: CAFC Updates
Coca-Cola purchased Parle (Exports), Limited of Bombay, India (who introduced Thums Up cola Limca lemon-lime soft drink in India in the 1970’s) and acquired Parle’s Indian registrations of the THUMS UP and LIMCA marks. Meenaxi sells beverages to Indian grocers in the United States using the THUMS UP and LIMCA marks. Prior to beginning use of the marks, Meenaxi searched for the marks and found that an application for the THUMS UP mark was abandoned in 1987 and a registration for the LIMCA mark expired in 1996. Meenaxi was granted Registrations for the THUMS UP and LIMCA standard character marks. Coca-Cola brought a claim under § 14(3) of the Lanham Act to cancel Meenaxi’s registrations for misrepresentation of source. The Board held that Meenaxi was attempting to dupe consumers in the United States who were familiar with Coca-Cola’s THUMS UP cola from India into believing that Meenaxi’s THUMS UP cola was the same drink, and that these efforts to deceive satisfied the misrepresentation of source claim, cancelling Meenaxi’s Registrations. Meenaxi appeals. Meenaxi contends that Coca-Cola lacks a statutory cause of action under Lexmark because, as a result of Meenaxi’s activity, (1) there were no lost sales in the United States and (2) there was no reputational injury in the United States. As to lost sales, the CAFC agrees with Meenaxi that Coca-Cola does not identify any lost sales in the United States, noting that Coca-Cola presented no evidence that it sells the Limca soda in the United States, and that Thums Up cola is only available for purchase as an individual beverage or as part of a tasting tray at “World of Coca-Cola” and “Coca-Cola Store” locations in Atlanta and Orlando and does not claim that such sales are more than de minimis. With respect to reputational injury, the CAFC finds that Coca-Cola failed to explain how its supposed reputational injury adversely affected its commercial interests other than to speculate that a consumer dissatisfied with Meenaxi’s products might blame Coca-Cola. The CAFC therefore reverses the Board’s decision cancelling the Meenaxi’s Registrations because Coca-Cola has not established that it has a cause of action under § 14(3) of the Lanham Act. Judge Reyna concurs but believes this case is governed by the territoriality principle.