Nongfu Spring vs Coca-Cola: patent battle or commercial struggle?
Updated: 2011-10-13 21:44
By Zhi Yun (chinadaily.com.cn)
The famous Chinese beverage brand Nongfu Spring has recently been accused by Coca-Cola that its "Victory Vitamin Water" has plagiarized the idea and package design of its own "Glacéau Vitamin Water", Zhejiang Morning Express reported on October 11.
According to the paper, Coca-Cola started to criticize Nongfu Spring’s act of plagiarism as early as the start of 2011, the former even asking Nongfu Spring to revise the package design of their "Victory Vitamin Water".
However, Zhou Li, the press spokesman for Nongfu Spring told the paper that Coca-Cola's claim has no legal substance, as Nongfu Spring has already got a patent for the beverage's packaging.
Moreover, Zhou added that the vitamin water of the Coca-Cola company is overvalued; and the intention of launching "Victory Vitamin Water" is to protect Chinese consumers' rights.
Right now, a bottle of "Victory Vitamin Water" sells for 3.5 yuan or 4 yuan, only about one-third of the recommended price of a bottle of "Glacéau Vitamin Water". Zhou told the paper that their price is quite reasonable compared to the price of Coca-Cola’s vitamin water.
According to 21st Century Business Herald, although Coca-Cola may have launched the product earlier than Nongfu Spring, it doesn’t have the patent of the beverage's package design. Therefore, Coca-Cola cannot accuse Nongfu Spring of plagiarism.
The head of Coco-Cola's public affairs and communications department told the paper that they will continue to communicate with Nongfu Spring, but they won’t engage in a law suit. She said that this kind of problem has occurred in the United States before, but it is the first of its kind in China.
A reporter from chinadaily.com.cn tried to contact Nongfu Spring for comment, but they could not be reached.