$25 billion drink company targets local businesswoman

WORLDS APART: Alstonville businesswoman Natalie Brookes is being pursued by Monster Beverage Corporation over her use of the word
WORLDS APART: Alstonville businesswoman Natalie Brookes is being pursued by Monster Beverage Corporation over her use of the word "monster" in her business name, Ferment Monster. Hamish Broome

A NORTHERN Rivers businesswoman is facing an expensive David and Goliath legal battle with multinational beverage giant Monster Energy Corporation over the use of the word "monster" in her business name.

When Alstonville woman Natalie Brookes innocently sought to protect the brand name, Ferment Monster - which she had worked for years to establish - she never expected to be the target of legal retaliation.

But a few months after lodging an application with IP Australia to protect her logo in November last year, she received a notice that Monster Energy would oppose her - and she would have to fight them in court to protect her business.

That could cost her, in the first instance alone, up to $60,000 in legal fees.

Ms Brookes has launched a crowdfunding page to raise money for her case and last night was interviewed by Channel Ten's The Project.

DECEPTIVE? Do these two brand logos look similar?
DECEPTIVE? Do these two brand logos look similar? Contributed

Monster are opposing the application on the grounds that the Ferment Monster logo is "substantially identical and/or deceptively similar" to their registered trademarks.

They claim that the trademark is therefore "likely to mislead or deceive individuals" into believing Ferment Monster's goods are somehow affiliated with Monster Energy's products.

Ms Brookes said the claim was utterly unfounded.

Monster Energy markets high-caffeine, high sugar energy drinks, while she sells cultures of bacteria and yeast to health conscious consumers.

"I sell to health food stores, and my product creates prebiotic and probiotic food and drinks," Ms Brookes said.

She said her product and Monster's were "polar opposites" of each other.

"This whole case is over the word monster, one word, 'monster'," she said.

"Now they do not have exclusive ownership over the word 'monster'.

"They try and put it out there that they do, but they don't. It's a scare tactic and it's a strategy that they have."

She said she had invested "everything" into her brand and wasn't prepared to just give up and go back to square one.

"This is my absolute passion, my drive, my time, blood sweat, tears, all of my financial resources have gone into establishing this business," she said.

"Everything you do in business is connected to your business name."

She now has until August 13, just ten days, to lodge her notice to defend Monster's challenge.

"Without the financial resources to fight the Monster Energy Corporation, I will not be able to continue this fight," she said.

Raising enough resources to go to court isn't a problem for Monster - according to Forbes, the California-based company is worth $25 billion. 

Ms Brookes said she wasn't just fighting for her business, but for the principle of the matter.

"I do not want this to happen to any other small business.

"This happens all the time, and the only reason you don't hear about it is because people do not stand up for themselves.

"I really would not wish this upon anyone.

"They get it away with it because no one stands up to it."

The Gofundme page raising money for the legal battle is here:

Topics:  business editors picks soft drink

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