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Coca-Cola Blinks First in Package Design Staredown

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According to the latest Eurobrand report, the Coca-Cola Company's "Global Brand Value" of $75.639 billion -- $20 billion behind Apple and roughly $5 billion ahead of Microsoft.

Until Apple took the lead, Coca-Cola's trademark had been called "the most valuable piece of intellectual property in the world today" (Thanks for the eyes, Harold G) and "an icon for capitalism and private enterprise."

But the Atlanta beverage giant -- certainly not one to shrink from a legal dispute if it feels its intellectual property has been threatened -- seems to have blinked first in a package design dispute with "famous Chinese beverage brand" Nongfu Spring.

Coca-Cola insists that one of Nongfu Spring's products "bears a striking resemblance" to its own Vitaminwater, and spokeswoman Zhai Mei tells the Global Times that the company has "officially contacted [them] asking that the labels, packaging and all promotional materials be changed."

However, no legal action appears to be in the offing.

"We are in friendly negotiations right now," Zhai says.

In the (other) red corner, Zhou Li, a Nongfu Spring representative, maintains that Coca-Cola's claim "has no legal substance, as Nongfu Spring has already got a patent for the beverage's packaging."

Zhou further adds that "the vitamin water of the Coca-Cola company is overvalued" and says Nongfu's product is "quite reasonable" in comparison.

As Wu Kunqian, a Beijing trademark lawyer tells the Times, "When it comes to trade dress lawsuits in China, the most important thing a judge looks at is whether the packaging could cause the consumers to buy one product when they meant to buy another."

Don't waste your time, Coke -- you'll never convince a judge there's any similarity between these two designs:

POSITION:  No positions in stocks mentioned.