There have been several instances where I’ve looked at a menu card at a pub with a really cool cocktail name and wondered if they’ve trademarked it. Never did I once imagine that the ones that are common and used by all are in fact the ones that are registered trademarks. So would use of these trademarks by restaurants and pubs in their menu card amount to trademark infringement? There are several possibilities in connection with this and before I get to that, here’s a list of cocktail names that are filed/registered in India, some of them actually belong to the big players of the alcohol industry.

MARTINI – Some of the marks are registered in the name of Martini & Rossi S.P.A., and some by Bacardi & Company Limited. On conducting a search, I found that the companies merged in 1993.

PINA COLADA – This mark is registered in the name of United Spirits Limited

BLOODY MARY – This mark is registered in the name of by McDowell & Company Ltd.

SCREW DRIVER – This mark is also registered in the name of by McDowell & Company Ltd.

COSMOPOLITAN – Several variations of the mark (word mark and device marks in a number of combinations are registered in the name of Shiva Distilleries and almost all of the specification of goods are limited to whiskey.

JAGER BOMB – The word mark and device marks for Jägermeister are registered in the name of Mast-Jägermeister SE. Interestingly, a device mark for Jäger Bomb has been applied for by a Delhi based company. Given that the main ingredient for Jäger Bomb is the Jägermeister, can someone other than the company hold a trademark for Jäger Bomb? Only time will tell if Mast-Jägermeister SE will oppose the mark in India.

SANGRIA – The same company that has applied for Jäger Bomb, has applied for the mark Sangria.

MOJITO – Surprisingly, there is only one application for this mark by an Indian applicant for “Alcoholic beverages as included in class 33”. I wonder how far one can actually enforce such a trademark or expect to have exclusivity over it.

BLUE LAGOON – As per the online records, two companies (IFB Agro Industries Limited and McDowell & Co., Ltd.) have registrations for the word mark and Umeri Distillery (P) Limited has registered a label for Blue Lagoon.

I’m sure there are many more of such treasures on the Trademark Register! The fact that these popular cocktails used by all of us as generic trademarks are registered trademarks raises a lot of questions. Some of them would be,

Who came up with the trademark?

The origin would most certainty be hard to find but if these companies did create the trademark, then they have the right to the trademark.

If these companies own it, can they enforce them?

If (and that is a big IF) these companies were the first to create and use these trademarks, they didn’t protect them well enough because their marks have become generic. Genericide is when the public considers the trademark to represent a general category of products or services rather other associating it only with the owner – Google and Xerox would be the best examples of generic marks.

Would use of these trademarks amount to infringement?

It would be very difficult to tell given that there are several factors to be considered – ownership of the mark, usage not only in India but also globally, the fact that these marks have become generic etc.

I’m sure it’s come as a quite a surprise to know that these cocktail names are registered trademarks, however, an internet search doesn’t throw up any results for law suits filed by these companies for trademark infringement. Given that every other bar uses these on the menu card, the list should have been a long one. So if you are aware of any such trademark infringement suits, I’d be glad to know of them!

This article has been authored by Nikita, an IP Law practitioner.