Category Archives: Trademark

April 10

Arguing With the Trademark Office Over Wine? – La Finca Wine Trademark Decision Provides Interesting Lessons Regarding Acceptable Source Material

The TTAB (Trademark Trial and Appeal Board) recently affirmed the decision from the USPTO refusing to register the mark “La Finca” for wines on the basis that the vintner didn’t demonstrate that the brand had acquired distinctiveness since the translation of the term is “the estate” or “the farm” which is descriptive for wines.  You […]

March 31

Havana Club Dispute Back In The Spotlight After Congressional Reps Ask For Administration To Undo Predecessor’s Ruling

The latest turn in a decades long fight over control of the Havana Club trademark for rum came from the Capitol this week.  Congressional leaders from Florida (home of Bacardi’s U.S. headquarters) have sent a letter to the new administration asking for the repeal of an Obama administration decision to allow Cubaexport, the Cuban company […]

March 16

This Spuds Not For You – Anheuser Gets Sued By Putative Owner of Spuds MacKenzie Claiming Anheuser Abandoned Spuds MacKenzie

You read that right.  They created him, they used him, and now, they may have waited too long in between uses to be able to claim they have the rights to him.  This lawsuit (link to complaint), filed yesterday in the Southern District of New York by Spuds Ventures. The lawsuit alleges that the recent […]

March 08

Use a Foreign Word In Your Beverage Name? Better Make Sure It’s English Equivalent Isn’t Already Trademarked and Vice Versa

If a = b, then b = a.  In math, it’s called the “symmetric property of equality.”  There’s a similar principle in trademark law called the “doctrine of equivalents.”  Foreign words have protection from their english equivalents, and english words have protection from their foreign equivalents.  It applies to words from “common, modern languages.”  Italian […]

February 28

Sazerac Sues Distiller Over Fireball Trade Dress – What Do You Think?

That picture pretty much sums up the gist of this complaint that Sazerac has filed against Caribbean Distillers (makers of Sonavavitch vodka (you’re reading that right)) for a product they are be planning on making… that’s right, it doesn’t exist yet.  But that’s not stopping the good folks who make Fireball from protecting their market […]

February 24

The Public’s View of “Double Barreled” May Decide Trademark Dispute Between Bourbon Makers

A recent trademark decision shows how important consumer survey evidence has become in trademark litigation concerning generic and descriptive marks. In an ongoing trademark dispute over the use of the term “double barreled” between Sazerac and Prichard’s, a federal court found that neither side had submitted the information necessary for it to rule – evidence of what […]

February 02

Use Tequila in Your Drink Name? You May Need to Use Another Name. U.S. Trademark Office Makes Tequila the Champagne of Agaves

Marie Gaytán’s “¡Tequila!: Distilling the Spirit of Mexico” is a grand exercise in contextualizing tequila historically, economically, and politically.  If you don’t start the book with an appreciation (and hankering) for tequila or mezcal as something that isn’t served with salt and lime, you will by the time you finish it.  The treatise renewed my […]

January 04

Court Issues Instructive Trademark Decision as Brooklyn Brewery Wins Injunction Against Black Ops Brewing Over “Black Ops” Trademark Row

Not every beverage you make will become a brand in itself.  Often, nothing you make will become more famous than your company name.  But for some reason stouts aged in bourbon barrels are notorious for having their names get the shorthand treatment and become famous – Bourbon County, Dark Lord, Dragon’s Milk, even to initials […]