Fight over flavor-shot-enhanced 'dirty sodas' in court

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A fight between two Utah chains that sell flavor-shot-spiked "dirty sodas," came to a federal courtroom Thursday as the sweet drinks grow increasingly popular in the predominantly Mormon state where sugar is a common indulgence.

Soda shop Swig contends competitor Sodalicious copied the trademarked "dirty" concept, down to the frosted sugar cookies sold alongside the sweet drinks.

Sodalicious argues dirty is a common drink moniker and tongue-in-cheek nicknames for their beverages like "Second Wife" make their business distinctly different.

The two sides sparred Thursday over a Sodalicious lawyer whose husband is one of the chain's co-owners. Swig contends it's a problem because she could accidently share the sensitive financial information and trade secrets that are becoming part of the court record in the case.

"If I was a competitor I'd find it very helpful," said Swig lawyer Mark Bettilyon. "It's just not fair."

But Sodalicious attorney Tessa Meyer Santiago says her husband only scouts new locations, and isn't involved in day-to-day business decisions.

Having to hire a new lawyer to would be unfairly expensive to the company, she said.

"I have no daily contact with anyone in company," she said. "There's one attorney on the case because cost is an issue."

Bettilyon argued that finding new locations is a key part of both chains' rapidly growing businesses.

"They're very profitable businesses. All you need to sit outside and see all the cars go by," he said. "It basically is a land grab at this point."

U.S. District Judge Dustin Pead decided the close relationship could be a problem, but said too many restrictions could also make the lawsuit unfairly costly for Sodalicious.

He decided to restrict what Santiago sees, but he also allowed Sodalicious to revise its request for information from the other side, so there wouldn't been too much information that's out of bounds.

The case is set for trial in August 2017. Swig's lawsuit filed last year asks for a court order barring Sodalicious from using words and signs too similar to theirs as well as unspecified damages.

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