1 June 2016Trademarks

Coca-Cola handed mixed ruling in ‘Zero’ trademark row

The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) has ruled that Coca-Cola does not have exclusive rights to the term ‘Zero’, but has granted it a trademark covering a line of soft drinks.

The decision centres on Coca-Cola’s dispute with drinks maker Dr Pepper.

Coca-Cola first tried to register a trademark for ‘Zero’ in 2003 covering its zero-calorie drinks, including Coke Zero. In total, it applied for 17 trademarks including ‘Cherry Coke Zero’ and ‘Vanilla Coke Zero’.

In 2007, Dr Pepper, which makes Diet Rite Pure Zero, opposed the application. It claimed ‘Zero’ was a generic term and short for ‘Zero calories’.

But, in its May 23 decision, the TTAB said Coca-Cola’s use of the term had acquired distinctiveness in connection with soft drinks and could be registered as a trademark.

Despite this the TTAB left the door open for future registrations incorporating the term ‘Zero’ and said Dr Pepper could trademark ‘Diet Rite Pure Zero’.

Dr Pepper was told it could trademark the term because it is a full brand name, not just the term ‘Zero’.

Earlier this year, WIPR reported that the near ten-year dispute was set to conclude.

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More on this story

7 December 2017   Coca-Cola emerged victorious this morning as the EU General Court ruled that the European Union Intellectual Property Office incorrectly analysed a trademark case that had gone against the multinational.
21 June 2018   The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit yesterday revived a trademark clash between Dr Pepper Snapple Group and Coca-Cola over the term ‘Zero’.
5 August 2020   Dr Pepper will be unable to reignite a dispute with Coca-Cola, after it failed it overturn a US Trademark Trial and Appeal Board decision over its rival's 'zero' mark.