Thursday, January 12, 2006

The Sorta Real Thing

Here is an interesting article on gray market Coke which is quite popular among Latinos in the U.S.

Here is the question I would ask my law school class: Mexican Coke is allegedly formulated differently in that it is made with cane sugar. U.S. Coke is made with high fructose corn syrup. What should Coke's strategy be?

Based on this article, it seems like they are doing the right things by focusing on their distribution contracts. The trademark case is hard unless they can prove the products are materially different. That introduces a problem in their marketing as it undercuts the message that all Coke is the same everywhere in the world.

If they want, the folks at Coke could ask Customs for Lever Bros. protection but that also requires that they admit that the products are different. And, Lever only prevents the importation of gray market products that are not labeled as such. In other words, the irony of Lever protection is that it also tells the importer what they have to do to get the goods past CBP. Go figure.

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