CHINA – Global beverages giant Coca-Cola has accused Chinese brand Nongfu Spring of duplicating its packaging design for its bottled vitamin water.
According to Coca-Cola China’s public affairs and communications head, Zhai Mei, Nongfu’s Victory Vitamin Water of Nongfu is “visually very similar” to its Glacau Vitamin Water in the size and shape of the bottle, as well as the logo design.
She added that the bottles’ packaging similarities could easily confuse consumers.
However, Nongfu Spring’s spokesman Zhou Li defended his company and refuted Coca-Cola’s allegations, saying that it does not have legal backing. He also asked for a public apology from the international beverage giant.
According to Zhou, Nongfu Spring had in fact taken steps to ensure such copying allegations would not occur: "To avoid legal risks, Nongfu Spring especially consulted lawyers before the product was marketed.
"The designs of two products are obviously different in both label fonts and colors. We use horizontal words, while they have vertical. Our label is pure white - theirs has two colors," Zhou commented, adding that Nongfu modified its product design early this year following complaints from Coca-Cola.
Furthermore, the Nongfu representative also asserted that Coca-Cola has no patent or copyright on its design, so it cannot charge Nongfu Spring of plagiarism, even though it launched the product earlier.
Zhou suggested that Coca-Cola’s accusations are borne out of concern that “our beverage is far more popular with consumer than its Glacau product”. He also questioned why the US brand owner is making the allegations only a year after Victory Vitamin Water was launched.
“It is Coca-Cola’s own responsibility that it overpriced its product, which resulted in a low market share,” Zhou said.
Coca-Cola insists though that package designs of popular brands are legally protected, rendering Nongfu’s product “illegal."
Zhai, however, expressed the Coca Cola’s desire to solve the issue amiably: “We have shown kindness and sincerity from the beginning and wish to solve the problem harmoniously.”