Playboy Takes Another Hit in Energy Drink Feud

SALT LAKE CITY — Playboy Enterprises has taken another hit in its trademark battle with CirTran Corporation and its Play Beverages partner.

The Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois ruled this week in favor of the beverage companies and their senior executives.

The Hon. Kathleen M. Pantle dismissed all claims brought by Playboy against CirTran Corporation, and personally against CirTran President Iehab J. Hawatmeh and fellow senior executive Fadi Nora. Judge Pantle's ruling focused on Playboy’s inability to plead facts sufficient to state a claim against these parties under Illinois law. She allowed Playboy the opportunity to file an amended complaint if Playboy can honestly assert facts that would allow Playboy to pierce the corporate veil.

This was the seventh time in as many rulings (since December 2012) that CirTran and its partners have won in court against Playboy.

In a related matter, Judge Pantle granted CirTran and its Play Beverages partners’ motion to compel Jimmy Esebag and United Licensing Group to respond to discovery requests and deposition questions, finding that Esebag and Playboy’s legal counsel engaged in obstructionist conduct by refusing to produce relevant evidence and testimony. Judge Pantel also reserved on awarding fees and sanctions against Esebag and Playboy for a later date.

“While we have spent too much time in court battling seemingly never-ending yet fruitless charges brought by Playboy, we are delighted to again have the court rule in our favor,” Hawatmeh said.

“Beverage distribution continues to be the flagship of our product line,” he added, “and we are moving ahead with sales and distribution of Playboy Energy Drink with the famous rabbit trademark, in 20 countries in Asia, the Middle East, Africa, the U.S., South America, Europe and Canada.”

In response to the ruling, Playboy told XBIZ, "The court ruled that Playboy's claims are not barred by Play Beverages' previous bankruptcy proceedings. This ruling is yet another recognition that the 'foundational asset' of Play Beverages and CirTran Beverage Corp is the very license that Playboy has asserted is terminated. Playboy Enterprises intends to provide additional detail in the litigation to demonstrate that, along with Play Beverages, CirTran Corporation and its principals Iehab Hawatmeh and Fadi Nora are infringing on the Playboy trademarks, have no continuing rights to use the Playboy brand and have no further business in Playboy energy drinks."