Battle of the bottles: Coke versus Pepsi

The Coca-Cola Company has gone to court in Australia because of the new curved bottle marketed by their global rival PepsiCo, Sydney’s Sunday Telegraph newspaper reported last Sunday.

Though the action was launched in the Federal Court earlier this month, both parties have kept quiet about this legal bottle-battle that could have implications around the world. It is also unclear why the complaint by Coca-Cola has been filed in Australia, and not in the United States.

Coca-Cola claims that their classic bottle has existed since 1916 and that the unique shape of the Coca-Cola bottle serves as an identifying feature. The coke silhouette — bulging at both ends and narrow in the middle — has lended itself to anything from car bodies to transistor radios. In the 1960s the coke-bottle allegedly inspired cars such as America’s Dodge Charger, Germany’s Opel Commodore and Britain’s Vauxhall Visa.

The court papers show Coca-Cola’s claims that the Pepsi bottle is “substantially identical with or deceptively similar to” its trademarked contour bottle. Coca-Cola contends that the Pepsi bottles with the slim waist are a copy of the classic Coke bottles with their curvy contours.

Coca-Cola, which has 70 percent of Australia’s soft drink market, accuses PepsiCo of having copied the bottles since 2007, and possibly claims millions of dollars in damages for “deceptive conduct and passing off.” Coca-Cola is asking Justice Julie Dodds-Streeton to uphold its claim to the distinctive contour shape and punish PepsiCo for infringing on its intellectual property.

Pepsi has announced that it has been selling the contested bottles in Australia since 2007, but denied that the Coca Cola’s rights have been violated.

Bottle battle to be continued…