- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 21, 2017

Yoko Ono, the widow of late Beatles co-founder John Lennon, has pressured a Polish beverage company to rebrand its line of “John Lemon” drinks by alleging trademark infringement.

Mr. Lemonade Alternative Drinks said its beverage line will soon be called “On Lemon” after receiving legal threats sent on behalf of Ms. Ono, the heir to the late star’s estate.

Lawyers for Ms. Ono initially asked the company to ditch the name in March and have since warned Mr. Lemonade that it risks being fined unless it rebrands, the East London Advertiser reported Tuesday.

Mr. Lemonade argued that it trademarked “John Lemon” in the EU in 2014, two years before Ms. Ono registered the “John Lennon” brand there, but relented in lieu of facing a likely lengthy and expensive legal battle.

“All of us involved with this product are startups, and we couldn’t take on someone who is worth many, many millions,” Karol Chamera, the company’s founder, told the newspaper.

his attorney, Hugo Bałaziński of law firm KSP, told The Guardian that the settlement allows his client “to continue his business and passion in one; however it was agreed that since November 2017 the products offered by our client should rebrand.”

Mr. Lemonade landed in hot water after it evoked the late Beatles frontman in its online advertisements, including one that showed Lennon grasping a lemon tree and another that used the phrase “Let It Be,” the name of the Beatles’ final studio album as well as its title track, Ms. Ono’s attorneys said.

“They were abusing and misusing the legacy of John Lennon to sell their soda,” Joris Van Manen, an attorney for Ms. Ono, told the East London Advertiser. “I believe they are now going to call the drink On Lemon instead, which is much better.”

Ms. Ono’s legal team said the beverage company risked being fined up to 5,000 euros ($5,998) per day for infringing on the Lennon trademark, as well as penalties of 500 euros ($600.20) for each bottle sold, the newspaper reported.

Ms. Ono declined to comment on the matter, Rolling Stone reported Wednesday.

Mr. Lemonade Alternative Drinks launched in 2012 and currently sells over 50 different products across the U.K. and Poland, including drinks such as Fritz-Kola, Club Mate and a variety of “John Lemon” beverages in flavors ranging from plum to pear. It has agreed to sell off its John Lemon drinks by the end of October and said it will rebrand the following month.

Lennon married Ms. Ono in 1969. He was shot to death 11 years later outside his New York City apartment at the age of 40.

• Andrew Blake can be reached at ablake@washingtontimes.com.

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