Jack Daniels (“JD”) filed suit against Dynasty Spirits Inc. and Buffalo Bayou Distilleries for copyright infringement, dilution of trademarks, false advertising, trade dress infringement, and disparaging consumer reviews which hindered JD’s reputation and good will. Dynasty bottles, labeling, and package coloring are claimed by JD to be substantially similar causing consumer confusion (JD claims that Dynasty even asked retailers to place their product near JD product). Jack Daniel’s claims the label and trade dress similarities between these whiskies and its product have and will continue to hurt its brand.   For more, click here.

Florida based wine importer, Palm Bay International Inc., has filed a lawsuit against Italian wine producer, Citra, over the trademarks “Sheep Thrills” and “Niro.” In the complaint, filed February 20, 2018, Plaintiff’s Palm Bay allege that Defendant Citra has wrongfully claimed ownership of its “Sheep Thrills” and “Niro” trademarks and that Palm Bay’s ownership of the marks is “clouded” by Citra’s continued usage. Citra maintains that it owns the two trademarks at issue by virtue of a contract entered into with Palm Bay. In 1991, Palm Bay and Citra entered into an agreement that provided Palm Bay with exclusive rights to import Citra brand wine and other Citra brand products in exchange for Palm Bay achieving defined annual sales obligations. According to the complaint, the parties “enjoyed a long and mutually beneficial business relationship” pursuant to the contract until October 2017, when Citra served Palm Bay with a purported Notice of Termination of the contract, effective April 30, 2018. In 2010, Palm Bay filed COLA applications in its own name seeking label approval for the “Niro” brand and in 2015 for the “Sheep Thrills” brand, both of which were approved by the TTB. According to the complaint, Palm Bay also claims to have created and financed all marketing and promotional materials for the “Sheep Thrills” and “Niro” brands in an effort to build brand awareness. Plaintiff, Palm Wine, a related entity to Palm Bay, owns the U.S. Federal Trademark “Sheep Thrills”  for use in connection with wines which was issued in November…

This week a Tenth Circuit panel reversed and vacated an arbitration decision that had previously exempted an Oklahoma tribe from $27 million in alcohol sales taxes.  The case began after a 2014 tax audit was launched by Oklahoma tax authorities, according to Law360, after the tribe asserting $27 million in tax exemptions for sales tax on alcohol served to nonmember casino patrons. The state questioned the exemptions, revoked alcohol beverage permits for the casinos and, according to Law360, threatened to close the casinos and other businesses for allegedly failing to report sales tax collections, thus, prompting the tribe to bring the arbitration. The Tenth Circuit held that a tribal-state gaming compact with an arbitration provision contingent upon the availability of de novo review was unenforceable and conflicted with the Supreme Court’s decision in Hall Street Associates v. Mattel. In Hall Street, as reported by Law360, the Supreme Court held that the Federal Arbitration Act prevents parties to an arbitration agreement from contracting for de novo review of an arbitration award.