A new ally in the fight against counterfeit wine – the online retailer Alibaba

In early 2015, Wine Spectator questioned how serious the Chinese government was at addressing the problem of counterfeit wines and pointed to Alibaba’s site as a major culprit in promoting the sale of counterfeit bottles. A clever solution implemented by producers and brokers back then was the award of exclusive distribution rights within the country.  […]

Dissent In Texas Three-Tier Case Contains Powerful Indictment Of Strict Enforcement Of Cross-Tier Ownership

As you all probably have heard, in Cadena Commercial v. Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, the Texas Supreme Court recently weighed in on the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission’s decision to deny a license for retail sales to a group of convenience stores that wanted to sell alcohol because through a chain of ownership, one of the […]

Will Lee v. Tam End The TTB’s Censorship of Beer Wine and Spirits Labels Found Obscene or Indecent?

As the US awaits a verdict in Lee v. Tam – a trademark dispute challenging a section of the trademark act (15 U.S.C. 1052(a)) refusing trademark registration for marks that are deemed immoral or scandalous, and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s implementation and application of those restrictions – it would benefit us to be […]

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 […]

Online Wine Retailer Wins Case Against False Claims Assertions Over Failure to Collect Local Taxes For Sales

In a recent win for online wine retailers (not wineries selling direct), the Illinois appellate court has upheld the dismissal of an action against online wine retailer Winetasting.com alleging it violated Illinois’ False Claims Act (740 ILCS 175) in failing to collect and pay the local retailer’s occupation tax for the municipality where the wine […]

Example Agreements: Spirits Manufacturing Agreement (Licensing) – Contract Distilling With Enhanced “Flash” Aging

This recent dispute between a distiller and a company looking to contract manufacture a whiskey called Rattleback Rye has resulted in an opinion from a federal district court in South Carolina denying a motion to dismiss based on breach of contract grounds against both the company and its principals, but granting dismissal of claims for […]

Using A Photograph in Advertising or On Your Label? Better Make Sure You Have Rights From the Photographer AND the People In It. Natty Light Sued In Lawsuit Over Using Photograph From Social Media Contest.

Ensure that you get the proper releases if you’re using a photograph with human subjects.  Whether on your label or in your advertising – if you’ve gathered photographs from a festival or from fans through a social media campaign you need clearance.  That means a release from the artist – he photographer – as well […]

Sapporo Wins “Not Made In Japan” Lawsuit – Havana Club and Red Stripe Opinions Are Gaining Steam as Precedent for Beer False Origin Lawsuits

“If I wanted American beer, I would have bought Budweiser” – that’s what the plaintiff in the recently dismissed class action against Sapporo told the New York Post back when they reported on her filing the lawsuit. The plaintiff in this suit went after Sapporo claiming that the packaging mislead consumers into believing the beer […]

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 […]

Helpful Tips to Ensure Employees or Paid Influencers That Endorse Your Product on Social Media Comply With Advertising Regulations

Let’s face it, the fact that a celebrity or industry influencer can cause a sell-out of your products after just a few endorsements is a testament to the value of social media.  But given that the FTC and other agencies and organizations involved in regulating advertising don’t often bring enforcement actions against small companies, you […]

A Win for Rational Thought In Alcohol Advertising – 8th Circuit Asks District Court to Consider Whether There’s A Correlation Between Alcohol Advertising Regulations and Their Intended Objectives In Order to Satisfy First Amendment Scrutiny

It’s not just that some 20th Century laws are not equipped to handle 21st Century problems. (I read that in a Google ad a while back and still think it is a great statement.)  Its that since the time when many of the problems asserted in the alcohol industry were the subject of “tied-house” and […]