Innocent can no longer claim a “David” nametag with Goliath success

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Few people would imagine the twee, “friendly”, down-to-earth Innocent Drinks brand being involved in a battle – let alone being considered the “Goliath” in any encounter.

But when a single mum of two decided to set up a healthy vitamins company under the Innocent name, the smoothie maker felt it had no choice but to take serious action and has asked the new company to trade under a different title.

Dawn Reid, owner of Innocent Vitamins, says she is “concerned” the drinks company is seeking to gain a monopoly over a “commonplace word” like Innocent.

But would the same argument stand against a company like Apple or Sharp?

Co-CEO of Innocent Drinks Richard Reed argues that it is not just the use of the word Innocent that is unacceptable, it is the fact that a new brand has come along with uncannily similar branding and proposition.

He is worried Innocent Vitamins will simply piggy-back the success his company has built for itself since 1999.

When three Cambridge graduates started Innocent after spending £500 on fruit and experimenting with new recipes, they probably never expected to be involved in what could be a lengthy legal war – who would start a fight with a brand that placed a fluffy bunny at the centre of its ad campaigns?

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But growing up in business is a tough game and while the Innocent still does its best to retain its start-up persona – inviting customers in to its astroturf-carpeted and park bench-furnished Innocent Towers and still citing humour as part of its “brand DNA” – it is near on impossible to remain small and successful.

And with Innocent’s plans to double the size of its brand in three years and Coca-Cola’s 58% stake in its business, Innocent is fast-realising it can no longer claim to be the “little guy”.

Innocent is quickly losing its start-up and independent labels. Its latest trademark disagreement is one of just many steps the company will need to endure as it journeys to become a mega brand.

With every year of continued success, Innocent is shaking off its David persona and being recognised as a Goliath alongisde brands like Apple and Sharp.

It’s hard to stay the good guy forever.

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