Coca-Cola or Chica-Locca?
A STL first: a reader’s infringement safari!
Seattle lawyer Kevin Halverson just returned from an enviable vacation to Mexico. “Warm-water surfing,” as he put it. Seriously, that right there is reason enough to practice law. I’m super-jealous.
So what’s wrong with Chica Locca’s having a little fun with the Coca-Cola logo? No one really thinks they have something to do with Coca-Cola, right?
Probably not, but its use still amounts to trademark dilution. Under the Lanham Act (and many state statutes), dilution occurs when a famous trademark is used by a third party without the famous brand owner’s permission. The problem is not with a likelihood of confusion, but with watering down the famous brand. While consumers seeing the Coca-Cola logo used to think only of cola made by the Coca-Cola Company, consumers that have visited Sayulita now think of both the Coca-Cola Company and the Chica Locca Company. It’s an eroding of the power of Coca-Cola’s famous mark solely to stand for the company that makes Coke. It’s also an unfair free ride that Chica Locca has taken on the Coca-Cola Company’s fame.
But not to get too heavy. It’s a great find for a lawyer on vacation.