The prior dispute between Diageo and its use of on its Johnnie Walker brand of the Explorers Club of New York
Diageo has settled its legal dispute with New York City’s Explorers Club, which had sued in 2012 to prevent the drinks giant from using the club’s name on a special edition of Johnnie Walker Scotch whisky. Under a new global sponsorship and licensing agreement, the terms of which weren’t disclosed, the Scotch brand will become a corporate sponsor of the historic club, which will serve as inspiration for the Johnnie Walker Explorers’ Club Collection going forward. In August, a New York state judge had barred Diageo from using The Explorers Club moniker on the special Johnnie Walker range, which retails at $43-$159 a liter.
A New York judge barred Diageo from continuing to use the “The Explorers Club” on its line of Johnnie Walker whiskey.
The Explorers Club is a New York members-only club. The complaint alleges that Diageo was intentionally trying to associate its brand with the club. Diageo’s “Johnnie Walker Explorers’ Club Collection” launched in 2012.
The judge granted The Explorers Club its petition for a permanent injunction, as the use implied a relationship between the two organizations. The judge said, “In addition to this obvious similarity, the latter’s tie-ins to the club’s image and reputation of adventure and exploration in its marketing and commercial displays are blatant.”
In addition to the New York State Supreme Court case, The Explorers Club also brought an action against Diageo for trademark infringement in a New York federal court and opposed Diageo’s registrations at the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board. The federal suit relates to infringement and unfair competition claims, whereas the state suit focuses on injunctive relief.