Monster Energy Defeats Rival’s Trademark Suit Over Reign Drinks

Monster Energy came away victorious in Florida federal court against rival, Vital Pharmaceuticals (VPX), over claims Monster’s Reign drink packaging ripped off VPX’s Bang Energy drink. After a nine-day bench trial, U.S. District Judge Roy Altman said the case “simply wasn’t close.”

Monster EnergyPhoto Credit: Shutterstock

Sitting in Fort Lauderdale, Altman found that VPX couldn’t prove that its Bang cans were entitled to trade dress protection and that Monster’s Reign cans weren’t likely to confuse consumers regardless.

VPX originally sued Monster in Fort Lauderdale in 2019, alleging its calorie- and sugar-free Reign energy drink copied its trade dress and were likely to cause consumer confusion with VPX’s Bang drink (a leading brand of “healthy” energy drinks).

VPX claimed both drinks use confusingly similar elements including black backgrounds with contrasting brightly colored designs, large stylized logos and similar taglines. It described the Reign cans as a “shamelessly copy” of Bang.

Monster denied the claims and argued that Bang actually copied elements of its original 2002 can design.

Altman agreed, finding that VPX couldn’t show the design was significantly unique or recognized by consumers in a way that would entitle it to trade-dress protection, describing VPX’s packaging as “merely a refinement of the original Monster Energy can.”

“This court has examined hundreds — if not thousands — of energy-drink cans,” the judge wrote. “We’ve viewed them in all kinds of lightings; we’ve examined the drinks in person and in videos and in pictures; we’ve felt the cans and consumed their contents. In the end, we find that the Bang trade dress, as a whole, is neither unique nor unusual.”

Altman also claimed VPX attempted to swindle the court by altering what it claimed its alleged trade-dress covered, saying VPX “opened the trial by revealing a shocking (and entirely new) theory: that Monster had stolen the precise colors Bang had used in its cans — down to the very last shade — in a craven effort to pass its product off as Bang’s.”

“By the end, though, VPX’s copied-paint theory had been totally debunked — and its case was left in shambles. If Monster were attempting to pass Reign off as Bang, it did an exceptionally poor job of it,” Altman said.

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