After almost seven years of back and forth legal battles, a jury deliberated for almost four hours before reaching a unanimous verdict in favor of Globefill Inc. (Crystal Head Vodka) suit against Elements Spirits Inc. (Kah Tequila) for infringement of Globefill’s bottle trademark of its unique crystal skull shaped vodka bottle. Actor Dank Akroyd’s vodka brand had brought a suit against the tequila maker claiming they infringed on Globefill’s trademark due to the similarities between both bottles. The case had gone to a jury trial in 2010 in which Elements was found not guilty of infringement but the case was set for a new trial because the defense had improperly referenced Mexican case law. At trial this week, the plaintiff’s attorney asked for permission to call one final rebuttal witness before closing arguments. U.S. District Judge Consuelo B. Marshall assented the requested and Globefill called to the stand tattoo artist and sculpture Walter Szymoniak who was commissioned to create the bottle for Elements. During questioning, Szymoniak dropped a bombshell, testifying that Elements founder Kim Brandi had lied under oath during previous testimony in the case. According to Law360, in 2009, Brandi met Szymoniak and told him she was trying to launch a tequila that would be contained in bottles that resembled Mexican Day of the Dead sugar skulls, or calaveras. Szymoniak said that he told Brandi he had experience with sculpting, casting and molding, and he was then hired to help her improve on her first clay prototype….

Posted in alcohol beverage law, Lawsuits, Litigation | Tagged crystal head, litigation, Oren | Comments Off

There is continued momentum for the repeal and replacement of the decades old prohibition liquor law that restricts grocery and large store retailers from selling liquor products within their stores as opposed to a separate adjacent store that must be separated by a wall from the retail store. Last week we wrote about Bryan Avila, R-Hialeah, who sponsored a bill to amend the law. The proposed bill would create dual “liquor package store licenses,” with “Type A” licenses going to stores keeping a wall of separation between booze and other retail items, and “Type B” licenses going to those who sell liquor in the same general space as other goods. On Thursday, the Florida Senate voted on Senate Bill 106, allowing grocery stores, big box retailers and other stores to sell liquor in the same space as other products in a 21-17 vote. This issue has been a hot topic for advocacy groups against and the retailers who are lobbying for the change. The retailers hope to grow their sales by making alcohol products more accessible to consumers as they shop for other products but that is the main issue of contention for those opposing the bill. Sen. Daphne Campbell said she voted no because it might make liquor more accessible to teenagers. “High school kids are going to go on breaks for lunch and be able to buy alcohol. They could die while driving back to school or be arrested for DUI,” said Campbell. The bill does outline restrictions…

This week, Florida’s Senate Regulated Industries Committee approved a bill sponsored by Sen. Frank Artiles that would change the existing state laws currently restricting beer wholesalers from giving away free glassware to on-premise retailers such as bars, restaurants and other establishments that sell beer. The bill will set limits on the amount of glassware that may be given to five cases of 24 glasses per brand per year. Should a company have multiple brands, such as the larger national brewers, they can potentially give away thousands of glasses annually.     Joshua Aubuchon, a lobbyist for the Florida Brewers Guild, spoke with CBS Miami and said the small craft breweries that his organization represents cannot compete with that cost. Even if a brewer offered five cases to each bar, at a cost of $1 per glass, it could add up to $42,000, assuming the brewery had 350 customers. “We simply can’t afford it,”said Aubuchon. The bill moves on next to the Commerce and Tourism Committee and we will provide updates as they become available.   By Oren Cytrynbaum

Posted in beer, Florida, tap room, Trade Practice | Tagged beer, Florida, glassware, Oren | Comments Off