The Real Reason Red Bull Sued This Turkish Government Agency

Red Bull has some pretty iconic branding. Since the energy drink company was first founded back in 1987, their signature image of two red bulls facing off against a yellow sun has become very recognizable. Thanks to the image, and of course, the name, the Austrian brand has become pretty synonymous with, well, red bulls. Or at least, that's definitely how Red Bull felt when it filed a trademark cancellation lawsuit against the Turkish government after they approved the logo of a small soda company located in Antalya, Turkey, which also features a red bull.

According to Hurriyet Daily News, the soda company, owned by Salman Akşun, filed a trademark application in 2019 for his brand, Zilli Öküz Gazoz (which translates into Jingle Ox Soda), with TürkPatent, the government agency that grants patents and trademarks. The brand's logo features the image of a horned red ox holding a bell. As part of the procedural review process, TürkPatent published the application, making it available for public review. After which, Red Bull executives apparently saw the image and took issue with the similarities between Akşun's red bull and their brand.

Red Bull's suit against TürkPatent was dismissed

First, Red Bull's company lawyers reached out to TürkPatent and demanded the Zilli Öküz Gazoz trademark be denied. However, the Turkish government saw no issue with the logos and quickly dismissed Red Bull's request, stating that the two images looked nothing alike. According to The Takeout, the energy drink giant, which is worth about 15 billion euros, then decided to sue the Turkish government agency for approving the trademark.

However, in this case, it seems the courts were firmly on the side of the little guy. The case was almost immediately dismissed. The courts decided the logos of the two brands were distinctly dissimilar, with the animals being very different in shape and appearance, and Akşun was allowed to keep his trademark and logo, per Hurriyet Daily News. Red Bull still has the option to appeal the decision, so this lawsuit might now be over yet. But for now, the case is clear: Despite what the company may believe, Red Bull energy drinks are not the only beverages that can lay claim to images of colorful cattle.