Coca-Cola Threatens to Sue Lensman for "Creative" Billboard
July 12, 2005

New Delhi: Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages, the Indian arm of US cola major, has threatended to sue noted photographer Sharad Haksar for infringement of its trademark.

Haksar, a reputed photographer and winner of Cannes 2005 Silver Lion award, had placed a large billboard in Chennai highlighting severe water shortages being experienced by communities that live around Coca-Cola bottling plants.

Though Haksar claims that his "work is solely an expression of creativity", Coca-Cola has charged the lensman for infringement of its trade mark.

When contacted, a Coca-Cola spokesperson told PTI: "We issued Haksar a legal notice for infringement of Coca-Cola India trade mark." "But at the same time, both sides are talking to each other to resolve the issue amicably. We talked to Haksar even today," the spokesperson added.

Law firm Daniel & Gladys, which represent Coca-Cola India, had sent a letter to Haksar on July 11 threatening him with serious legal action unless the billboard was replaced unconditionally and immediately, India Resource Centre, an international campaigning organisation, said in an e-mailed statement from London.

Coca-Cola would seek Rs 20 lakh (45,000 dollar) for "incalculable damage" to the goodwill and reputation of the MNC, the statement said, adding the Cola major also sought "unconditional apology in writing".

Haksar, who put out the billboard featuring Coca-Cola's wall painting along with a photo of a dry water hand-pump with empty vessels waiting to be filled with water, is quoted as saying that he has "no intention of issuing any apology.

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