How is it that companies such as the ones that make generic (Walmart brand) beverages get away with basically copying name brand products?

  1. You can trademark a brand, not a recipe.. I think that’s the gist of it.

  2. Common food and food ingredients are not legally protected. I can’t make my own Fried Chicken, declare it a “MashCaster Special”, and then claim Popeye’s is infringing on my property. But this also means I can take certain ingredients, mix them together and end up with something that tastes quite similar to Dr. Pepper. I can’t sell it as Dr. Pepper, but I can give it my own brand name and sell it. This is what Wal-Mart does with a lot of products,

  3. Typically store brand items are made by the same company that produces the name brand item. For example, I forget which one, but either Kroger or Walmart brand yogurt is actually Dannon just with a store brand label.

  4. For a five year old:

    Your friend Bobby has just created this really cool color by mixing paints and he doesn’t want anyone else to know how he did it. Everyone else starts mixing paints to get close to the same color as Bobby but it’s never exactly the same color. Bobby doesn’t care because he knows he and everyone else knows that he is the only one who can make that color. Eventually someone finds out exactly how to make the color through trial and error, this makes Bobby mad so he complains to the teacher who tells Bobby there is nothing that can be done.

    Now Sally on the other hand Found out how to make paint sparkly by adding glitter. She tells the teacher and everyone else how to do it on the condition that no one else will do until the end of the month to which everyone agrees. But sally finds out that Pete lied and started adding glitter to his paint so she tells the teacher and Pete gets in trouble.

    For an adult:

    The first story is an example of Trade Secret which has it’s own set of rules. But if a trade secret is found out through legitimate means then it is perfectly legal. While the second example is that of a Patent where the creator is able to reserve the right of production for a set period and afterwards anyone is allowed to manufacture it. Also the teacher is the Government.

  5. There are different types of intellectual property protections. Preventing someone from making a product that you designed falls under the protection of patents. The idea here is that if you come up with a new design (an invention) then you get to be the only one who makes that design for some period of time. In exchange you have to tell everyone how you did it. The idea here is to encourage people to invest in coming up with new ideas.

    Store brand items are pretty much never covered by patents—the time to patent “sugar, water, carbonation, and flavoring” has long since come and gone, if that was ever a patentable idea in the first place. Using your personal favorite ratio of those ingredients doesn’t give you something new enough to patent. Same goes for pretty much any product. It’s always things that have been around for a long time.

    Since patents aren’t going to get in the way that leaves the other two areas of intellectual property: copyright and trademarks. Copyright protection serves a similar purpose to patents, but it covers creative works—writing, music, pictures, etc. You get to be the only one who can sell your creative work for some period of time, but after a while the copyright expires and the creative work goes into the public domain—anyone can use it. (However, copyright protection keeps on getting extended, largely thanks to Disney trying to protect their old works). The idea here is that the producer of the creative work gets to profit from their work, but eventually things go into the public domain and anyone is free to take the work and build off of it (much in the same way that Disney built off of the public domain work of, say, Cinderella).

    Copyright isn’t even particularly relevant to generic brands, so that only leaves the final protection: trademark. Trademarks serve a different purpose from patents and copyright entirely. It’s not about encouraging people to produce more stuff (inventions or creative works); it’s about trying to make it so that consumers know what they’re getting. If I buy a 2-liter bottle with a red label and the scrawling white letters with two bit “C”s on it then I expect to get Coca-Cola. There’s a certain quality that I expect from that label. If I get it home and taste it and it tastes like crap then I’ll be upset because I was misled.

    The goal with trademarks is to let companies build up a reputation that consumers can trust. The Coca-Cola Company goes to great lengths to ensure a consistent quality in their products, which consumers come to rely on. If someone else makes a product that is packaged with the same markings as real Coca-Cola but with a lower quality then it will sell off of Coca-Cola’s reputation which is then damages.

    Thus, the defining test when evaluating trademark claims is “would a consumer think that they are getting the trademark owner’s product when they actually aren’t?” Dr Thunder may be packaged in a generally similar color to Dr Pepper. They both use names that start with Dr. However, they are different enough that consumers will not buy Dr Thunder and think they’re getting Dr Pepper. Thus, there is no trademark violation.

    It’s likely that the store brand is being made by the brand-name company, too, but even if it’s not there is still no intellectual property infringement. You could start your own company and make “Mountain Mist” soda that gets sold in a yellow/green bottle. You can even copy the recipe for Mountain Dew completely (if you can get your hands on it) and there’s no infringement.

  6. Are you saying that Dr. Thunder is not a totally uniquely invented product?

  7. Sometimes it IS the name brand companies making them.

  8. A lot of the times, the suppliers of the “No Name” product are the same suppliers of the named product.

    For example: Coca-cola makes it’s own cola, wal-mart approaches Coca-cola and asks them to develop for them a similar Cola Product under the Wal Mart brand.

    Coca -Cola agrees to do it, tweaks the formula a smidge and sells it to Wal-Mart. Either way the company wins.

    If Coca-cola says no, then Wal-Mart tenders the business out to Say Pepsi.

    What I found since graduating and working is that everyone is in bed with everyone and everything I learned is shit.

  9. Dr. Thunder taste way off than Dr. Pepper. I bet in wide blind study people would pick DR. Pepper. Provided it have not sit on the shelf that long. It has smooth creamy overtones that Dr.thunder can not reproduce. Any FYI the original coke formula was found in a old news paper. I am going to make it at home and see how it comes out.

  10. This is the reason why Aldi is doing so well in the UK. I Read an article about it actually, I’ll try find it.

    It’s an article in the Daily Mail so I can’t promise that there won’t be racism:

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2508069/Aldi-successful-copies-brands-improves-quality.html

  11. Brand names are NOT the inventor of a product they are merely the most successful or most common version of a class of item.

    Oreo’s, for example, aren’t the original chocolate and vanilla cream cookie they are merely the most successful version.

    How do generics “get away with it” the same way the “brand names” do. They don’t own the idea or concept just the name. Cola existed long before coca cola. Cola is named after the kola nut which was an ingredient in the early stuff. Pepsi is named after pepsin, an ingredient in their original recipe. Dr. Pepper is named after you guessed it Doctor Pepper a dentist.

    All colas are based on common patent medicine recipes for tooth ailments or in the case of pepsi stomach troubles.

    side note:

    Generic drugs are out of patent. Because they are a new creation they can be patented but patents expire and the genetics copy the now public domain patent.

  12. Some of you are missing the bigger point. The store brand items are just that. Store brands. Therefore they can set the prices to whatever they like, which is generally more competitively priced than name brands. The name brand has a couple of choices at this point. Accept that, or not sell at that store. I can promise you coca cola, or Pepsi won’t pull their product off their major retailers shelves because that is where they get a ton of revenue.

  13. You can change a few ingredients and re release it as a new product.

  14. Generic (private label) products are often made by the manufacturer of the branded product.

  15. Actually, anyone can try and copy Dr. Pepper, Coke, and even KFC’s herb and spices recipes. These are considered trade secrets and are not protected by law of copying. If you actually went in to one of these manufacturers and stole the actual recipe, then you would be breaking the law. But you can try and copy anyone’s recipe and sell it as your own.

    But the key is you cannot steal any of their copywrited or trademarked material. For example, Dr. Thunder name or Sam’s Cola name, instead of selling it as Dr. Pepper or Coca Cola.

    A trade secret, unlike a patent, trademark, copywrite, is only protected by the company/person keeping that secret. Once the secret is out it is no longer protected.

    I am sure I missed some details, but this is the jest of it.