Global drinks giant Red Bull has launched legal action against a New Zealand energy drinks maker over an alleged copyright breach.

Christchurch-based Red this year launched a vodka and energy pre-mixed drink.

But it soon brought the attention of Red Bull -- the highest selling energy drink in the world, with more than five billion cans sold every year.

Red Bull's lawyers wrote to its latest competitors outlining perceived copyright breaches.


"It was inevitable that the Red beverage would gain sales as a result of being associated with Red Bull and that it would mislead and deceive consumers," it says.

"It even smells and tastes like Red Bull energy drink."

However, the Kiwi-based manufacturer of the 7 per cent alcoholic drink has seemingly stuck two fingers up at the legal threat.

Red has been using quotes from Red Bull's legal threat in some of its marketing campaigns.

The cheeky company has even put its red-and-white cans alongside Red Bull's distinctive blue-and-silver cans and asked consumers, "Can you spot the difference?"

On its Facebook page, Red said: "Attention Red fans. The folks at Red Bull are very concerned.

"They're worried you might mistake our drink Red can for a can of Red Bull. While we're certain they have only your best interests at heart, we think you'll be able to spot the difference."

The Christchurch company, which has also released sugar-free and 1 per cent versions of the vodka and energy drink, did not respond to requests to comment.


Red Bull also refused to enter the discussion.

"We will not be able to comment on this," a New Zealand-based spokesman for Red Bull said after consulting the company's Salzburg headquarters.