LOS ANGELES — Playboy Enterprises has fired back at its former U.S. energy drink licensees, suing the beverage companies after they tried to stop Playboy from severing their relationship.
The media giant was hit with a lawsuit by Play Beverages (PlayBev) and CirTran Beverage Corp. last October after trying to end its deal with the companies that make and distribute its energy drink.
According to BeverageDaily.com, Playboy filed a suit in U.S. District Court for Central California in December alleging trademark infringement and claims that PlayBev and co-defendant CirTran are "irreparably harming the energy drink category itself.”
Playboy maintained that even after the termination of its agreement with the defendants, the Playboy Energy Drink was illegally sold and marketed in California with Playboy’s trademarks that it spends millions on each year to develop and protect.
The complaint further sates that the drinks continued to be promoted through the beverage companies’ websites after the license agreement — originally inked in 2006 — was terminated. PlayBev filed for voluntary bankruptcy in late April 2011, but Playboy extended the licensing deal upon the basis of three alternative dates that came with certain stipulations including a $2 million payout.
“[The] defendants state…[online]…that PlayBev is the official licensee of Playboy and that PlayBev’s use of the word ‘Playboy’ and the Rabbit Head Design is under license,” Playboy said.
“However, these statements are not true, as the license agreement has expired and Playboy has advised the defendants of this fact. [The] defendants’ actions are tarnishing the category because they continue to represent their use of Playboy marks as authorized by Playboy, when that is not the case.
“As long as defendants’ infringement causes confusion, Playboy is hindered in its ability to control the use of its intellectual property in, and to capitalize on, this licensing category,” Playboy said.
Playboy is also trying to stop PlayBev from using the still active domain name PlayboyEnergy.com, under an anti-cyber squatting count.