Mango season has begun, and I suppose it's appropriate that the Mazaa trademark (one of the few packaged mango drinks on the market) should be fought over at this time of year. Two separate articles, in Economic Times and Business Standard, report that Bisleri, the biggest packaged-water player in India, is planning legal action against Coca-Cola (CC) India for attempting to register the Mazaa trademark in other parts of the world.
The story so far:
Bisleri claims CC had applied to register Mazaa in Turkey, but has since withdrawn it. It had also allegedly earlier applied for registration in Europe. In any event, Bisleri has lodged a complaint with CC on grounds that it is a breach of agreement under which Coca-Cola had acquired the rights of Mazaa trademark from Bisleri in India in 1993. It has stated that if this complaint is not entertained, it would consider legal action.
There appears to be some ambiguity, either in reportage or in the messages coming out from CC's corporate communications department, over Coca-Cola's stand on the issue. For example, their spokesperson told ET that "We have not registered the brand anywhere and have no intention of doing it."
But CC has also told Bisleri that they should have entered into a non-compete agreement in order to "restrain" CC from expansion outside India. BS quotes an internal communication from CC to Bisleri, which states that, “In countries (other than India) where Maaza is registered by a [Bisleri] entity but not used by that Entity in accordance with the statutory requirements of that country, [Coca-Cola] can apply for rectification of the market in accordance with the law of that particular country.”
Clearly, these are just initial developments. It is merely a complaint that has been lodged. No legal notice even has been sent. This is surely mere speculation, but that Bisleri should take this issue public so early on is presumably an attempt to black-ball Coca-Cola in the Indian market. The market had already taken a beating some years ago after CSE's expose on the alleged contents of soft-drinks in the country. This is perhaps Biseri's attempt to (re)capture a latent negative sentiment against the international? Next obvious question, does Bisleri plan to resume independent operations after 15 years of partnership with CC? But I shall restrain from further conjecture.