Filipino legal authorities are targeting the Thai manufacturers and local distributors of Red Bull over alleged violation of Philippines’ intellectual property and food safety regulations.
On Monday, the Department of Justice (DOJ) directed the Legazpi City prosecutor’s office to file charges against officials of T.C. Pharmaceutical Industries Co. Ltd. (TCP), manufacturer of the Red Bull energy drink, and Maryland Distributors Inc.
The charges stem from a petition filed by Energy Food and Drinks Inc. (EFDI), another local distributor that was appointed by TCP back in 2003 to be the sole Philippine distributor of Red Bull Supreme Energy Drink.
As per the Bureau of Food and Drugs, EFDI was granted a Certificate of Product Registration for Red Bull with the bureau that is set to last till March 31, 2013.
But in 2009, TCP went ahead and signed another contract with Maryland Distributors, for it to be the exclusive distributor of Red Bull energy drink products in the country from early 2010, ending its partnership with EFDI.
EFDI did not take this lying down. In 2010, it took both TCP and Maryland to the prosecutor’s office after discovering that there were Red Bull products in the market with “MDI” stickers superimposed on the portion of the label that identified EFDI as the product’s exclusive distributor.
However, the prosecutor threw out the case on the grounds that it was a “civil dispute over a product distributorship agreement.” EFDI filed further appeals into 2011 but they were denied prompting it to approach the DOJ.
The DOJ has now reversed the prosecutor’s findings in its resolution and said that a food product shall be deemed misbranded if its labeling is false or misleading in any particular.
“Since complainant EFDI was the exclusive distributor, its name must be indicated in the label of Red Bull products. In the instant case, however, the bottles of Red Bull bore tampered stickers/label,” the DOJ resolution said.
The DOJ also noted that it had discovered acts of conspiracy among the personnel at both TCP and MDI, “when they acted in unison in violating the property rights of EFDI.”
Among the people the DOJ has named in the case are Bangkok-based Suthirat Yoovidhya, Supreeya Yoovidhya, and Nucharee Yoovidhya – kin of Chaleo Yoovidhya, the co-creator of Red Bull along with Austrian Dietrich Mateshitz.
Chaleo Yoovidhya died in Bangkok on March 17 this year.