Coca-Cola Co. v. Gemini Rising, Inc.

346 F. Supp. 1183 (1972)

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Coca-Cola Co. v. Gemini Rising, Inc.

United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York
346 F. Supp. 1183 (1972)

  • Written by Ann Wooster, JD

Facts

Coca-Cola Co. (Coke) (plaintiff) was the manufacturer of a soft-drink beverage sold under the widely known trademark “Coca-Cola.” Coke used distinctive stylized script lettering with a sweeping white curved band added below the script to display this trademark. Common print advertisements showed the word “Enjoy” above “Coca-Cola,” with the word “Trademark” followed by “R” in a circle below. The trademark was presented in white lettering against a bright red background in all advertising forms, including posters. Gemini Rising, Inc. (Gemini) (defendant) was the creator, printer, and commercial seller of posters. Gemini created and began to sell a poster displaying an exact, blown-up reproduction of Coke’s distinctive trademark print advertisement, except that Gemini’s poster read “Enjoy Cocaine.” Gemini intended the poster to be a parody or spoof having exactly the opposite meaning of the word content. Coke brought suit in the district court for trademark infringement in violation of the Lanham Trade-Mark Act. Coke alleged that Gemini’s deliberate imitation of the registered trademark was likely to cause confusion as to Coke’s authorship or sponsorship of the poster and injure Coke’s business reputation through the association with a narcotic drug. Coke moved for a preliminary injunction to keep Gemini from selling the poster during the trial. Gemini argued that its merchandise was not similar to Coke products and that there was no likelihood of consumer confusion. Gemini claimed that such injunctive relief would raise serious First Amendment concerns about its right to free expression through spoof or parody. The district court considered the parties’ affidavits and exhibits to determine whether Coke needed the immediate protection of its trademark and business reputation afforded by injunctive relief.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Neaher, J.)

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