29 March 2019Trademarks

Rival sues Monster over its ‘knockoff’ Reign brand

A US-based sports supplement manufacturer has accused Monster Energy of “shamelessly copying” the trade dress of its energy drinks brand Bang.

In a complaint filed yesterday, March 28, at the US District Court for the Southern District of Florida, Vital Pharmaceuticals (VPX Sports) said Monster was causing consumer confusion with its “knockoff brand” Reign Total Body Fuel beverage.

VPX said the Reign energy drinks were “nearly identical and confusingly similar” to its own “aesthetically appealing and distinctive” trade dress for Bang.

The Bang energy drinks all have a black can, with a brightly coloured ‘b’ and the word ‘bang’ written underneath. The colour scheme of the label on each can is different depending on the flavour of the drink.

VPX said the Reign drinks also copy the phrase “body fuel” from VPX’s trademarked tagline 'Potent brain and body fuel'.

It said that while “competition law places reasonable limits on the proverbial expression ‘imitation is the sincerest form of flattery’", Monster’s “blatant infringement” of its trade dress “unlawfully encroaches upon any acceptable notion of fair competition”.

Additionally, VPX said it also holds an exclusive licence to the ‘Reign’ trademark from a third party, JHO IP. It said the licence grants it the exclusive right to sue third parties for infringement of the ‘Reign’ trademark without the necessity of adding JHO as a party.

In its complaint, VPX alleged that outside of the courtroom, Monster has mounted an online smear campaign, “attempting to defame and disparage VPX’s Bang energy drinks".

“While this smear campaign is not directly at issue in the present action, it is yet another example of Monster’s bad faith, anti-competitive, and sleazy tactics targeting VPX and attempting to confuse consumers,” VPX said.

Monster has been notably active on both sides of trademark disputes this year.

Earlier this month, Monster failed to stop the registration of a trademark which it said would be confusing against four of its earlier marks. The applied-for mark was for a pair of legs which took the shape of the letter ‘M’ and seemed to be taking a step forward.

A spokesperson for Monster said the company was confident that VPX's suit will ultimately be dismissed.

"VPX’s lawsuit is nothing more than a frivolous and bad faith attempt to slow the national release of Reign Total Body Fuel. The fact is, this meritless lawsuit will not impede the launch of Reign Total Body Fuel in any way," said the spokesperson.

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More on this story

13 February 2019   Energy drinks maker Monster Energy has settled a trademark dispute with California-based athletics company Monsta Athletics.
5 April 2019   Monster Energy has accused the creators of the Bang energy drink of false advertising, anti-competitive behaviour and stealing trade secrets.