Wicked Campers’ offensive campervan paint jobs could trigger a backlash from some of the world’s biggest brands.
The campervan rental company has come under pressure from politicians, police, the Department of Conservation, camp grounds, councils and the public for the use of explicit images and slogans painted on the sides of its vehicles.
One Wicked van features a Pepsi logo with the words “Pussy, taste the difference”.
Pepsi spokesman Craig Irwin said it will follow up with Wicked Campers about the “inappropriate and offensive use of the Pepsi trademark”.
Another van features an image of a witch passing a crack pipe, commonly used for smoking methamphetamine, to Snow White – the main character from Walt Disney Productions’ animated film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Snow White is street slang for cocaine and “Crack enjoy” is a play on Coca-Cola branding.
Disney spokeswoman Cara Leggett said it protects its intellectual property vigorously and takes reports of suspected infringement seriously.
However, she would not comment on possible or pending investigations or actions.
Coca-Cola did not respond to a request for comment.
Wicked Campers, which was founded in Brisbane by John Webb, is also yet to respond to requests for comment.
Sebastian Aymeric, at intellectual property law firm James and Wells, said Wicked Campers could be in breach of copyright to the logos it had used. It might also be in breach of the Fair Trading Act for misleading consumers into thinking there was a connection between the big brands and Wicked Campers.
Suing for trademark infringement would be more difficult because it was debatable that Wicked Campers was using the logos as a trademark.
“When you put a Pepsi logo on a Wicked Campers van you’re not telling customers that’s a Pepsi campervan, so it wouldn’t necessarily be used as a trademark,” Aymeric said.
Source: The Dominion Post, Wednesday, March 30, 2016, P. B4. (Business Section).