Reporter’s notebook: CytoSport, VPX, Labrada trademarks

With CytoSport signing a distribution agreement with Pepsi Bottling Group for Muscle Milk and competitors VPX and Labrada expanding their distribution in mainstream channels, nutritional companies are becoming a force in the beverage industry. With that in mind, we took a look at each company’s recent U.S. Trademark Office filings to see what plans it might have for the near future.

CytoSport: CytoSport’s Muscle Milk represents the biggest crossover success from nutrition shops to convenience stores, and the company has made no secret of its intent to extend that success. CytoSport briefly pushed its kid-targeted Mighty Milk, then switched focus to its isotonic, CytoMax. Neither caught the public’s attention like Muscle Milk did, and CytoSport may be shifting yet again. The company filed a number of trademarks in the last 18 months for products that could be headed for a convenience cooler near you.

CytoSport filed three separate names for protein enhanced waters – ProH2O, Muscle Milk ProH2O and MuscleH2O – that suggests the company aims to succeed where no one else has. Protein has yet to take off in waters and other products that don’t have a milk-like base, though competitors like Whey Up, Designer Whey and Kellogg’s continue to try. The company’s three-name strategy suggests hesitation at connecting protein water – something that has yet to have a mainstream taste appeal – with their banner beverage, which can taste downright indulgent.

The company appears to be toying with further Muscle Milk extensions as well. CytoSport filed a trademark for Muscle Milk Refuel and Sport Milk. The application for Refuel described the intended product as a “protein enhanced energy drink.” Sport Milk was simply labeled a “nutritional supplement.”

CytoSport may also be taking another run at isotonics. The company filed a trademark for the name “The Outperformance Drink,” described as a “fruit flavored nutritional supplement for use in performance athletic training.” Perhaps it could be a rebrand of CytoMax? Or, maybe, a new tagline for one of CytoSport’s existing products?

Labrada: Labrada, with its sugar-free protein shake in 7-Elevens, doesn’t appear to be readying a deep strike into the beverage cooler – at least, judging by its recent trademark filings. Aside from the now-widely available Lean Body On-The-Go, Labrada filed four trademarks in 2008 and 2009. The applications call each a “nutritional supplement.” Two, Tyrobboost and Xhilar8, are both fat-burning supplements that have already arrived on the market. The remaining two, HumanGrowth and Supersize! Xtreme Mass, have yet to be released, but the names speak for themselves.

VPX: Redline-maker and industry-wildcard VPX filed more trademarks than Labrada and CytoSport combined. With more than 50 applications for names, listing all of them here would be cumbersome. Suffice to say, the company appears ready with a brand name or three for just about any kind of beverage product they’re likely to make – but here are a few highlights.

The company filed three trademarks for extensions to its Redline brand: Redline Varsity, Redline MAQ and Redline Gum. The applications list Varsity as a nutritional supplement or nutritionally fortified beverage, Gum as a chewing gum and MAQ as an energy drink, isotonic drink or sports drink.

While VPX can trace most of its mainstream exposure to Redline, the company appears to be considering diversification into the anti-energy drink trend. VPX filed trademarks for names including Slow Ride, 7 Hour Down, Sedate, Tranq Anti Energy Shot, Chillin’ Bro, Relaxor Shot, and Dranq.

They also appear, with their application for the name Liquid Brainz, to be mulling an entry into the emerging trend toward brain-health drinks.