I come bearing breaking legal news from the Land Down Under, specifically, New Zealand. It appears that Coca-Cola recently suffered a small setback in its quest for world domination. Those of you familiar with non-traditional trademarks likely know that Coca-Cola has enjoyed a relatively long history of protection regarding its “contour bottle” shape. But New Zealand’s high court recently limited, or at least placed a boundary on, the scope of protection to which Coca-Cola was entitled. (Decision here.) Oversimplifying the Court’s opinion, the judge basically rejected Coca-Cola’s claim because he believed that the only similar feature was that the bottles had waists, and since wastes are a common element in many bottles, and are capable of serving a functional purpose, this feature was insufficient to find infringement. He noted a number of different features, including the direction of the fluting and the degree of pinch in the shape.
The two bottles are shown below. In my opinion, the fluting (horizontal versus vertical), is probably the most distinctive difference between the marks. Absent that, I’d have difficulty telling them apart. What do you think?