Playboy Bunny Stays on Energy Drink, Judge Rules

Bob Johnson

SALT LAKE CITY — A federal judge has decided that the iconic Playboy bunny trademark will remain on CirTran Corporation’s Playboy Energy Drink despite Playboy’s objections.

The decision follows a continuing dispute between Playboy and its energy drink licensees and marks the fourth win for the beverage companies in four legal battles.

CirTran Beverage said that Playboy's motion to prevent Play Beverages and CirTran from selling the drink was denied by Judge Robert W. Gettleman without prejudice, and that Play Beverages' motion to stay the federal action in favor of its state lawsuit in Chicago against Playboy was granted

In the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois' Eastern Division, Judge Gettleman granted a motion by Play Beverages, LLC, CirTran Beverage Corporation and CirTran Corporation, denying a motion by Playboy Enterprises International, Inc., without prejudice. Playboy had filed on Feb. 1, 2013, seeking to enjoin PlayBev and the CirTran companies from using the trademark, with the defendants counter filing on March 5.

Following Judge Gettleman's ruling, a report for status and review has been set for Oct. 17, 2013.

"The win last week in U.S. District Court continued CirTran's very successful litigation on behalf of our beverage business," Iehab J. Hawatmeh, the company's founder, chairman and President said.

"Since December 2012, it has been win after win for our beverage business, with CirTran and our partners successful in all settled-to-date and court proceedings involving the Playboy Energy Drink-centric beverage business," Hawatmeh added. "A settlement last month, he said, relieved CirTran of approximately $1.4 million in accrued royalties and other debt obligations claimed by former Play Beverages' partners.

"Despite time-consuming and costly litigation, CirTran continues to move forward with our Playboy Energy Drink business in North America and around the world," he said.

Playboy Enterprises issued this statement to XBIZ via email, “The ruling indicates that Playboy Enterprises can continue to pursue Play Beverages, CirTran Beverage Corporation and CirTran Corporation to shut down their misuse of Playboy’s intellectual property. It preserves all of Playboy’s positions that PlayBev and CirTran are engaging in infringement including that “Play Bev, however, failed to the make the $2 million payment required to make the [license] agreement effective.”  Playboy looks forward to pursuing and demonstrating that PlayBev, CirTran and their principals are unauthorized in conducting the Playboy energy drink business and in unlawfully making money from the Playboy brand."

In 2012, CirTran's beverage distribution revenues were reportedly up 39 percent from 2011, and accounted for 98 percent of its sales. CirTran has operations in Asia, including China, the Middle East, and Africa, as well as in the U.S., South America, Europe and Canada. To date, CirTran has operations in more than 20 countries.