5 April 2017Trademarks

Dr Pepper sues Mexican business for trade dress infringement

The Dr Pepper Snapple Group has sued a Mexican-based business for trade dress infringement centring on sparkling water.

Dr Pepper filed its suit against Bebidas Purificadas de Tehuacan and its distributor Centauro Distribution at the US District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Dallas Division on Friday, March 31.

Tehuacan is alleged to have adopted packaging for its sparkling mineral water that copied Dr Pepper’s Peñafiel product.

Dr Pepper also argued that the defendants had competed unfairly by passing off and had violated the Texas anti-dilution law.

The soft drinks company manages its Peñafiel products through its subsidiaries Mott’s and The American Bottling Company, which are authorised by Manantiales Peñafiel, the Mexico-based trademark owner and subsidiary of Dr Pepper.

According to the suit, Peñafiel was originally a mineral water product produced by the Peñafiel family. Cadbury Schweppes acquired the business in 1992.

In 2008, Dr Pepper spun off from Cadbury Schweppes and kept the Peñafiel brand and related IP.

The Peñafiel packaging has been used since at least 2012 and key elements of the packaging include a “distinctive font that was hand-drawn for Peñafiel, text sloping up and to the right, text that is white with a red outline, light blue bubbles above the name ‘Peñafiel’”, the suit said.

Tehuacan began using new packaging for its mineral water drinks in 2013 or 2014, claimed Dr Pepper.

It argued that for each of its “six or more” varieties of flavoured mineral water, the “key elements” of Tehuacan’s trade dress are the same or “confusingly similar” to the Peñafiel trade dress.

The suit added that Tehuacan used “the same font, text colours, slope of the product name, and image of fruit” in its trade dress elements.

Dr Pepper asked for actual, compensatory and/or consequential damages, exemplary damages, attorneys’ fees and a jury trial.

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