A beverage marketer singled out by the Tonino Lamborghini group as improperly marketing an energy drink licensed under the family name defended himself and his business today, claiming that he has a legitimate right to conduct business on behalf of the brand.
Miami businessman Kenneth La Grave said he is one of several U.S. beverage marketers who have found their ability to sell Tonino Lamborghini Energy Drink compromised by an ongoing dispute between Tonino Lamborghini Group — a self-described ‘creative projecting office’ that has come up with the concept of ‘lifestyle by Tonino Lamborghini’ and Innovators ApS, a Denmark-based global business that had apparently licensed the right to design and manufacture the brand.
Last year, Tonino Lamborghini attempted to end the agreement the company had signed with Innovators, and the case has been wrapped up in Italian courts for months. That has frozen the supply of much of the product in the U.S., according to Barry Taylor, a partner in HD Worldwide Enterprises, which had secured the rights to import the product domestically from Innovators. HD Worldwide had signed distribution agreements with several companies, including La Grave’s Eagle Investment Group of North America.
“They’re trying to kill the product,” Taylor said of the Tonino Lamborghini Group. “They didn’t like the marketing scheme.”
Last month, Tonino Lamborghini issued a statement that La Grave and Eagle Investment did not have a right to represent or act on behalf of the Tonino Lamborghini Group or promote the energy drink. Tonino Lamborghini issued a similar statement in relation to Blue/Gold Beverages, a Las Vegas-based company that had also purchased distribution rights for the drink in another part of the U.S. Those statements, according to La Grave, is related to the ongoing court case, the objective of which is to restore the right to sell the drink to the family-owned Lamborghini company.
“They’re right when the say I don’t have the right to act on behalf of the Tonino Lamborghini group,” La Grave said. “But I do have the right to act on behalf of my investment, which is in Tonino Lamborghini Energy Drink.”
Part of that investment involved purchasing a sponsorship at the American Airlines Arena, where the Miami Heat play basketball. The sponsorship went dark two months into a four-month contract because of the litigation, La Grave said.
As the battle continues to determine whether Innovators – and the companies it signed distribution contracts with, like HD Worldwide – will be able to maintain control of the brand, La Grave said, it has left him and others who wanted to market the brand in limbo.
“Everything we’ve done with the product and distribution and marketing has been under the legality of a contract we signed,” La Grave said. “We invested a great deal of money to bring the product to the country last year.”
Calls to Tonino Lamborghini Group went unreturned.