CHICAGO (CN) – A complaint accusing Coca-Cola of violating Blue Spring Water Co.’s “Zero” trademark can proceed on one count, U.S. District Judge Robert Gettleman ruled.
Judge Gettleman found that Coca-Cola failed to substantiate one element of its motion to dismiss charges by the Canadian bottled water company. Blue Spring claimed it had proposed to sell its “Naturally Zero” water products to Coca-Cola only to find later that Coca-Cola tired to trademark the term “zero” for its “Sprite Zero” drink.
After Blue Spring requested two extensions on Coca-Cola’s patent due to infringement concerns and demanded a $100 million settlement, Coca-Cola sought declaratory judgment complaint in Georgia. A Georgia court found for Coca-Cola in a default judgment, after Blue Spring had failed to respond to the complaint. Blue Spring appealed.
Judge Gettleman allowed litigation to proceed, finding the attempt to settle the matter in a Georgia court was inappropriate.
Gettleman found that “given that plaintiffs had neither physical nor virtual presence in Georgia, lacked a business relationship with defendant, and had no other dealings with any entity within the state, the court concludes that plaintiffs should not have reasonably anticipated being haled into court in Georgia.” He found that the “plaintiffs’ connection with Georgia was tenuous and failed to fulfill the requirements of the minimum contacts analysis.”
But Gettleman dismissed two counts against Coca-Cola – for trademark infringement under the Canadian Trademark Act, and to relieve Blue Springs of the judgment made in Georgia – because Canadian trademark regulations hold no bearing in the United States.