This month the EU Court of Justice (ECJ) ordered Monster to bear its own costs for a dismissed appeal case in which it claimed it did not receive a fax from the EUIPO notifying it that its trademark application for its Green Beans coffee energy drink had been rejected.
Back in December 2012 Monster filed the word trademark, which was rejected by the EUIPO in June 2013.
Since then the California-based energy drink giant has been locked in an appeals process against the decision.
Yet according to EU court documents there appears to have been some disagreement about whether the appeal was lodged within the legal timeframe.
The EUIPO took the starting date of the two-month limit for appeals when it sent its notification fax. However Monster claimed it did not receive this fax.
“Fax machines are designed so that any transmission or reception problem is reported by an error message which informs the sender of the exact reason for the non-receipt, as communicated to that fax machine by the addressee’s fax machine,” the Court said in its ruling.
“Where there is no communication of such a problem, a message indicating effective transmission is generated. Thus, where there has been no error message and there is a transmission report stating the word “ok”, it can be considered that the fax sent has been received by the addressee’.”
For this reason the Court rejected Monster's appeal for more time.
Red light for green bean
The trademark for the green bean drink, classed as ‘nutritional supplements in liquid form’, was refused on the bases of article seven of the EU trademark regulation, which outlines absolute grounds for refusal.
EU court documents show the trademark office incited sections b and c of the article, which states trademarks can be refused if they are “devoid of any distinctive character” and “consist exclusively of signs or indications which may serve, in trade, to designate the kind, quality, quantity, intended purpose, value, geographical origin or the time of production of the goods or of rendering of the service, or other characteristics of the goods or service”.
According to trademark search engine TMDB, the full filing referred to the wording 'Green Beans M Java Monster'.
A natural progression?
The introduction of 'natural' sources of caffeine like green tea, coffee and guarana berry have been increasingly seen as a way of shaking bad energy drink press and engaging older consumers.
Mintel food and drinks analyst Alex Beckett told us in the past energy drinks were one of the last beverage segments to embrace the “eccentric yet sophisticated appeal of botanical extracts”.
“Incorporating botanicals can meet energy drink users’ interest in more natural ingredients as well as convey a more mature positioning.”
He added: "The imagery which tends to adorn botanical drinks can also convey a sophisticated appeal, appropriate for attracting a mature audience of energy drink users. Focusing on these added-value features could help brands avoid the fate of Red Bull.”
Since June 2015, the Coca-Cola Company owns a 16.7% stake in Monster.
Neither Monster Corp nor Coca-Cola replied to our request for comment in time for publication.