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Law School Case Brief

Coca-Cola Co. v. Koke Co. of Am. - 254 U.S. 143, 41 S. Ct. 113 (1920)

Rule:

A product including the coloring matter is free to all who can make it if no extrinsic deceiving element is present.

Facts:

Coca-Cola Company filed suit seeking an injunction to restrain the alleged infringer from use of the words "Koke" and "Dope" to describe its product, alleging that the words infringed Coca-Cola’s trademark and constituted unfair competition. 

Issue:

Was Coca-Cola’s mark void as fraudulently representing its contents or effect?

Answer:

No

Conclusion:

Holding that the trademark was not void as fraudulently representing its contents or effect, the Supreme Court of the United States reversed the decree of the circuit court, and modified and affirmed the district court's decree. The Court held that Coca-Cola’s mark had a well-accepted meaning and indicated a single thing coming from a single source and that the alleged infringer's use of the word "Koke" was clearly intended to capitalize on the owner's goodwill, and thus was an infringement of Coca-Cola’s mark. The Court further held that Coca-Cola’s mark, either in words or symbols, did not represent the presence of cocaine in its formula or the presence of other ingredients not present, so it was not fraudulent representation or void for that reason. The Court determined that the alleged infringer's use of the word "Dope" in connection with its product was not an infringement because the word did not suggest Coca-Cola’s product.

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