It’s a fun little story: Bolivia wants drink giant to drop ‘coca’ from Coca-Cola
Mostly a publicity stunt as part of Bolivia’s efforts to improve the image of their exceptionally useful coca plant, and work toward making it once again an important part of their legal economy. But it may have struck a nerve
Coca-Cola released a statement on Thursday saying their trademark is “the most valuable and recognized brand in the world” and was protected under Bolivian law.
The statement repeated the company’s past denials that Coca-Cola has ever used cocaine as an ingredient — but was silent on whether the natural coca leaf was used to flavor their flagship soda.
Bolivian coca growers say that only a few years ago the company used to purchase tons of their leaves annually. They express frustration that Coca-Cola can use their beloved coca leaf — yet not defend it to a suspicious world.
“Instead of satanizing the leaf, they need to understand our situation,” said David Herrera, a state government supervisor for the coca-rich Chapare region. “They exported coca as a raw material for Coca-Cola, and we can’t even freely sell it in Bolivia.”
This got me thinking about the Coca Cola™ trademark.
If Bolivia and some of the other countries end up successfully navigating the international obstacles to allow the use of coca leaves in a variety of commercial products (toothpastes, analgesics, food products, etc.), soft drinks would be a natural.
And if somebody made a cola using coca leaves, it would be, by definition, a coca cola. Theoretically they could use those words on their product and advertisements (not as their brand name, but as a descriptor). So you could have Pepsi’s coca cola, for example.
I don’t know very much about trademark law, but it seems to me that a lot of lawyers could get very rich over this.
And I also wonder what the Coca Cola™ company is willing to do to avoid this situation even coming up…