LOS ANGELES, Oct. 29, 2015 /PRNewswire/ — ExxonMobil, http://www.exxon.com/, the world’s largest publicly traded oil and gasoline company, filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida against the two person start up Nielsen Spirits, Inc., the creator and owner of Roxx Vodka, a new Polish Ultra-Premium Vodka, www.facebook.com/smoothroxxvodka. The suit claims that consumers are likely to be confused by Roxx’s logo and that the same logo will cause irreparable harm to Exxon in diluting its mark. After two years of litigation, on the eve of trial Exxon last week dismissed a similar suit it had filed against Fox Entertainment.
Roxx Vodka is the debut product for Arizona based Nielsen Spirits, Inc., which was co-founded by Angie Nielsen and Bill Ferguson. Exxon is the second most profitable company in the Fortune 500 with reported earnings in excess of $32 Billion in 2014 and more than 83,000 employees worldwide. This is truly a classic case of David vs. Goliath or more accurately the schoolyard bully throwing his weight around.
Despite Roxx only being sold in Arizona and Southern California, Exxon elected to file its lawsuit in Florida to make it logistically more difficult for Nielsen to respond to Exxon’s allegations. Exxon cited a single party in Miami that Roxx had played a minor role in promoting as a basis for filing in Miami. If their sincere interest in filing suit is to have a jury evaluate their claims, they could have easily chosen to file in either Phoenix or Los Angeles.
While vodka has nothing to do with anything Exxon offers, it is ridiculous to believe that a reasonable consumer would confuse Exxon’s logo with Roxx. It is all but certain that no reasonable consumer would expect Roxx to power their car and likewise, drivers won’t pull up to an Exxon gas station anticipating a martini or Moscow Mule.
Roxx released a statement, in which the startup called the lawsuit “entirely meritless.” “It is ridiculous, if not insulting, to suggest that any reasonable consumer would ever confuse the Exxon logo with Roxx’s distinguishable mark.” Roxx’s representative goes on to say that, “The day a consumer confuses Roxx for gasoline, even high test, is the day we’re out of businesses. It is equally absurd to allege that anything Roxx could ever do would result in any dilution of Exxon’s mark. We’re talking about Exxon, a global company with virtually unlimited resources, influence and power against a company of two. Even if you took the top ten vodka producers and combined them Exxon would still be larger and more powerful and in no danger of being damaged by anything those vodka producers might do.”
Roxx looks forward to having the court rule on this matter and remains confident that the differences between Exxon and Roxx will be obvious to any jury that considers Exxon’s claims. In the end Roxx is confident they will prevail and be allowed to retain their mark as is.
SOURCE Nielsen Spirits, Inc.