Who is Innocent?
The trademark dispute story between Innocent Drinks and the owner of Innocent Vitamins in last week’s issue prompted the question of whether the Coca-Cola-owned smoothie maker had now embraced a corporate business attitude. Find the story here (www.mwlinks.co.uk/InnocentTrademark) and comment extracts below.
I think there are two issues here: first, the Innocent Vitamins logo seems to be remarkably close to the style of Innocent Drinks. The case would have been more difficult for Innocent Drinks to argue if the Innocent Vitamins logo was completely dissimilar. Unfortunately it’s not!
Second, although Innocent Drinks has built an iconic soft-drink brand using the name, equally unfortunately by using a generic word as the core brand DNA, it makes it difficult to move into other areas.
So as to a solution; pragmatically Innocent Vitamins should change its name and logo. But equally Innocent Drinks should not try to claim widespread usage for a common generic word.
The Innocent Vitamins logo looks suspiciously like the Innocent Drinks logo. It is not just the name usage which has rattled Innocent Drinks, but the likeness of brand packaging.
Co-CEO of Innocent Drinks Richard Reed is right: the proposition of Innocent Vitamins is too similar to Innocent Drinks’ ethos and is unfair. Innocent Drinks has spent years building its brand, and encroaching on and riding the wave of its success is erroneous.
Sarah Hooper, IUVO Marketing
The point is that ’Innocent’ is a ’distinctive’ asset. The proposition is similar, and there are also other brands in many categories with a similar brand story. Brands have refrained from using ’innocent’, and rightly so.
Dawn Reid has borrowed equity from Innocent, perhaps subconsciously. Either way, she needs to change the name.
Her argument that ’innocent’ is a commonplace word is irrelevant. In the eye’s of the Intellectual Property Office, ’innocent’ is not a word that is commonly used in the food industry, therefore it is unique (I forget its exact terminology for this). As a result, it can be subject to ownership as intellectual property. Innocent Drinks is completely within its rights to ask her to stop using it, in my opinion.
I agree with the other comments pointing out the similarity in the logo. Ms Reid has obviously tried to ride on the coat-tails of Innocent – the branding is remarkably similar, and would easily confuse most shoppers.
I don’t see this as a David and Goliath story – I see it as a simple trademark defence where the guilty party is trying to get as much publicity out of the case as possible.
Had the similarities not been so glaring I might have felt some sympathy for Ms Reid.
I can’t see this in David vs Goliath terms. It’s simply business. Intellectual property is a serious, costly and important issue, especially in brand value protection.
If the small business didn’t know what it was doing, or getting into, when it created the name, logo, etc, then I’d be very surprised.
It got some coverage, mind. Result!
Peter – Junkk.com & REtie.co.uk
Why does Innocent Drinks protecting its brand make it a bad guy? The similarity of branding, positioning and copy is striking – is it supposed to just ignore it?
My guess is that Dawn Reid knows exactly what she’s doing. She’s savvy enough to have got her brand stocked in Waitrose. And she’s savvy enough to have got a load of free publicity from this. I don’t think she needs any help from people positioning her as a victim of big corporate bullies.
Innocent Drinks would have done exactly the same thing when it was a start-up: it would have been crazy not to.