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Law School Case Brief

Coca-Cola Co. v. Dorris - 311 F. Supp. 287 (E.D. Ark. 1970)

Rule:

When a customer asks for the goods of one manufacturer, the substitution of the product of another is unfair competition. Substitution of any other goods is illegal, unless the customer understands that he is not getting what he ordered and assents thereto.

Facts:

Plaintiff Coca-Cola Co. is the owner of the trademark "Coca-Cola" and "Coke."  Defendant, Ed. E. Dorris, is an individual doing business as Dorris House. In response to calls for "Coca-Cola" and "Coke," defendant at his places of business, sold, substituted, and passed off its "Dorris House Cola," without oral explanation or comment, and without taking sufficient effective action to inform the purchaser at the time of the sale the identity of the merchandise received. Plaintiff brought action for trademark infringement and unfair competition. Plaintiff asserted that defendant's acts resulted in irreparable injury and damage. Plaintiff sought a permanent injunction, and monetary relief.

Issue:

Did the defendant’s actions amount to trademark infringement and unfair competition, thereby warranting the grant of permanent injunction against defendant?

Answer:

Yes.

Conclusion:

The court granted a permanent injunction against defendant, holding that defendant's acts and conduct were such that there was a reasonable likelihood that an appreciable number of defendant's customers would be deceived. The court found that defendant's acts constituted unfair competition with plaintiff, and if not restrained, would inflict irreparable injury on plaintiff.

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