Acting Business Editor for the NZ Herald

Red Bull's wrangle for legal bill

Drink Red attracted the attention of Red Bull's lawyers after launching its own 7 per cent vodka and energy pre-mixed drink last year.
Drink Red attracted the attention of Red Bull's lawyers after launching its own 7 per cent vodka and energy pre-mixed drink last year.

Billion-dollar beverage giant Red Bull has quibbled with a small New Zealand drinks maker over close to $5000 in court costs.

The wrangle over the legal bill comes after Red Bull failed to block Christchurch-based Drink Red from selling its own pre-mixed vodka and energy drink.

Drink Red attracted the attention of Red Bull's lawyers after launching its own 7 per cent vodka and energy pre-mixed drink last year.

Red Bull, which sells more than five billion cans every year and had $48 million of sales in New Zealand last year, sued the Kiwi company at the High Court in Auckland.

It claimed that Drink Red's beverage smelled and tasted like Red Bull, and that the new drink had "piggy-backed" on its well-known brand and ultimately breached the Fair Trading Act.

Red Bull sought an interim injunction preventing Drink Red Limited from advertising or selling its products ahead of a trial.

However, Justice Timothy Brewer rejected the case for an interim injunction earlier this year.

Red Bull has since told the High Court it should not have to pay the usual amount of legal costs to its Kiwi opponent.

Red Bull claimed Drink Red contributed unnecessarily to the time and expense of the case by failing to comply with timetable orders and making but then abandoning a bid to delay the injunction hearing.

While Red Bull pushed for costs bill to be reduced by 20 per cent due to Drink Red not complying with timetabling orders, Justice Brewer said this was excessive.

A 10 per cent reduction, however, was appropriate, he said.

Red Bull also argued the costs bill should be reduced by almost $4700 for it preparing an opposition for the abandoned bid to delay the hearing.

But Justice Brewer was not swayed by its sums.

"The defendants would ordinarily be entitled to costs in the order of $6913 for successfully defending the application for an interim injunction. To reduce the costs award by the $4683 contented for by the plaintiffs would greatly overcompensate the additional time and expene incurred in opposing the adjournment when viewed in the overall context of the application for an interim injunction," Justice Brewer said.

He reduced the legal bill Red Bull must pay by a further $400 and also denied Drink Red's bid to get costs for a second lawyer.

Red Bull has yet to respond to a request for comment sent to its lawyer.

- NZ Herald

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