Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Pepsi’s Storm in China Rages on

In my last post about Pepsi’s “Blue Storm” trademark infringement litigation, I summarized the Zhejiang Province People’s Supreme Court’s holding. The Court basically ruled Shanghai Pepsi Co., Ltd. (“SH Pepsi”), one of Pepsi’s joint ventures in China, infringed on Lanye’s rights in the “Blue Storm” trademark, and it ordered SH Pepsi to pay damages in the amount of ¥ 3 million. It also ordered a public apology to be issued by SH Pepsi in a Zhejiang newspaper. The deadline for SH Pepsi to comply with the orders has passed.

SH Pepsi is in the process of applying for the Zhejiang Province People’s Supreme Court to reconsider its decisions. So, it seems that the storm continues.

On the one hand, I understand why SH Pepsi has determined to storm on. It probably has spent millions in the “Blue Storm” advertisement campaign, which might have involved contracts that obligate Pepsi. Given the high stakes, SH Pepsi does not want to and cannot afford to throw in the white tower yet.

On the other, SH Pepsi’s perseverance in this case, judged from the outside, seems misplaced. Litigation of this scale and consequence generates bad press from all sides. Often times, big companies try to avoid bad press at all costs. Pepsi apparently does not share the same PR strategy here.

One more thing about this case that keeps bugging me is why Lanye did not join the other Pepsi joint ventures in China in the lawsuit. They are all involved in the same alleged infringement in various parts of the country. For the life of me, I failed to see the reason behind it other than legal malpractice.

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