Freek Freed By Feds

The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday reversed a preliminary injunction that had prevented National Beverage Corp. from selling its Freek energy drinks, dealing a blow to rival Hansen Natural Corp., according to the news service Reuters.

The court said Hansen’s popular Monster energy drinks were distinguishable from the Freek brand and others on the market, and therefore consumer confusion was unlikely.

A district court had earlier issued a tentative ruling in favor of Hansen, preventing Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.-based National from selling Freek drinks and ordering the company to withdraw them from the market. That decision was appealed, leading to Friday’s reversal.

Soft-drink maker Hansen had argued that National’s Freek drinks were confusingly similar, with a dark background on the can and a bold accent color, and that the terms “freak” and “monster” were similar in meaning. But those details were not enough for Hansen to claim infringement, the 9th Circuit ruled.

Packages of the two products “are similar in overall appearance only to the extent that they both feature ‘aggressive’ graphics and bold accent colors against dark backgrounds,” the court wrote.

“However, these elements are widely employed in the crowded energy drink market and are therefore unlikely to lead to confusion as to source.”