US Appeals Court Finds Trademark Infringement Against Jose Cuervo

On May 9, 2012, the US Appeals Court for the Sixth Circuit upheld a District Court’s injunction and determination that the distinctive dripping red wax that adorns bottle of Maker’s Mark Bourbon (some 800,000 cases a year are sold) is so distinctive that Jose Cuervo’s use of red dripping wax on its Tequila was a trademark violation.  Important in the Appeals Court’s decision was its suggestions that had been the wax been straighten, and not appeared as dripping, or if the wax were another color other than red, Jose Cuervo’s use of the wax – which had no real utility or function other than branding – may have been permissible. Bourbon and Tequila, after all, are different products and not considered within the same line of distilled spirits.  The Appeals Court recognized that in the word of alcoholic beverage distribution, “Distillers compete intensely on flavor, but also through branding and marketing; the history of bourbon, in particular, illustrates why strong branding and differentiation is important in the distilled spirits market.”

To read the US Appeals Court’s full decision go to: http://i.usatoday.net/money/_pdfs/12-0509-makers-mark-seal.pdf?loc=interstitialskip

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