Sports drink can't go by name ViaGuara

EU officials uphold original decision: ViaGuara sounds too much like Viagra.

By Jonathan Berr Jan 25, 2012 11:44AM
A European Union high court on Wednesday ruled that a Polish company can't market a sports drink under the name ViaGuara because it is too similar to Pfizer's (PFE) famous little blue pill that treats erectile dysfunction, Viagra.

Warsaw-based Viaguara SA applied for an EU trademark in 2005, but was refused. The company appealed the decision to the EU General Court, which upheld the earlier decision. Despite the ruling, the company still advertises ViaGuara on the web.

The company claims that its formula, which contains ginseng root among other ingredients, is needed "for the maintenance of vital energy," according to a Google translation of its website. The drink "helps when we lack energy, and we want to be creative and motivated to act," the site claims.  

It's not clear whether these claims make more sense in Polish than they do In English. I do not speak Polish. But why the Polish government, which boasts of its "long-standing tradition in protecting intellectual property" allowed such a blatant trademark infringement to stand is another question that needs to be answered. ViaGuara seems designed to appeal to the gullible and the desperate.

This is, of course, good news for Pfizer, which has spent lots of time fighting trademark infringements since the drug first came on the market in 1998. Hint: the stuff that spammers are peddling is probably fake. Last year, a federal judge upheld Pfizer's Viagra patent until 2019. It was one of the fastest-selling drugs in history.

ViaGuara is a pretty brazen trademark rip-off. It pales in comparison, however, to some of the Chinese knockoffs such as the fake Apple store that was uncovered there last year.

Jonathan Berr is a freelance business writer.
Tags: PFE
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