PepsiCo has agreed to change the label and cap on its new enhanced water brand as part of a settlement agreement with Glaceau, which had sued because Life Water’s packaging appeared to be a direct imitation of Glaceau’s vitaminwater.
“We reached an amicable agreement,” PepsiCo spokeswoman Michelle Naughton told the news agency Reuters. “There is a new label and cap. The name is still the same — SoBe Life Water.”
In an attempt to catch up to enhanced water category leader vitaminwater, PepsiCo released SoBe Life Water earlier this spring. Early last month, Glaceau’s parent company, Energy Brands, sued, claiming that the products were so close in appearance as to be an attempt to confuse consumers. Among the similar characteristics were the bottle shape, two-tone label and clear plastic cap.
“We respect that Pepsi agreed to change Life Water’s trade dress,” said Energy Brands CEO Darius Bikoff. “This reaffirms that imitation is no substitute for innovation.”
Energy Brands was seeking triple financial damages from the No. 2 soft drink maker. The two companies refused to give details on the financial aspects of the settlement.
Retailers won’t have to pull Life Water bottles that are still on their shelves, but any new shipments of the product will be in the new packaging.
The direction of the case’s outcome appeared apparent on Tuesday, when a federal court judge sarcastically rebuked PepsiCo for spurning a monochromatic label that made a clear distinction between the two products.
“The only reason to resist this is you want people to grab the wrong bottle,” said Judge Shira Sheindlin. “The only reason . . . is because you are hoping for confusion with this two-tone.”
That put the companies back to the negotiating table on Wednesday and Thursday, with the settlement announcement arriving this morning.