Coca-Cola threatens court action over ‘honest’ name

It’s that time of the year when its big red truck goes and spreads good cheer around the UK, but recently Coca-Cola has been branded a “trademark bully” after allegedly asking an independent coffee shop in a south-west town to stop using the word ‘Honest’.

According to reports in local Plymouth newspaper The Herald last week, Wyatt Cavalier and his wife Grace, who have run Honest Coffees since 2013, were told to change their coffee shop’s name by Coca-Cola.

The Herald reports that the couple received a letter from Coca-Cola saying the names Honest Coffees and a new offshoot Honest Milk are too similar to that of Coca-Cola’s subsidiary Honest Tea. The letter said they could either change the name or face court action.

Wyatt Cavalier told The Herald: “It’s bullying and could drive us out of business. We’ll have to change the name of the website. This will cost us everything. We will have to start from scratch.

Mr Cavalier added that he wondered how Coca-Cola can trademark the term ‘Honest’, when “there are loads of companies with ‘Honest’ in their name”.

While this might seem a classic case of David vs Goliath, it’s worth nothing that, in this instance, Coca-Cola might have a case. Big firms will continually try and protect their brand assets against dilution. Despite this, who is going to mix-up a small coffee shop in the south-west of the UK with a gigantic multinational like Coca-Cola?

The case brings up one of the many complex issues surrounding trademark law. If you find yourself lost in the maze, please do get in touch with us for some confidential advice.

If you need advice on Intellectual Property matters, Rothera Sharp have the team for you. Call our solicitors on 0800 088 6280 or email enquiries@rotherasharp.co.uk

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Richard Hammond - Rothera Sharp Solicitors Nottingham