Tag Archives alcohol

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has proposed changes to its compositional standards of beer, ale, stout, porter and malt liquor "to allow for innovation within the beer category while still preserving product integrity and to better reflect the tastes and needs of consumers." The proposed amendments would update the definition of beer to allow the use of microorganisms beyond yeast in the fermentation starter culture and remove the requirement that the final product "possess the aroma, taste and character commonly attributed to beer." In addition, herbs and spices would be permitted for use in product formulation, and beer would be limited to no more than 4 percent by weight of residual sugars to distinguish beer from malt-based beverages. Comments on the proposed changes will be accepted until September 14, 2018.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit has affirmed summary judgment in favor of Peristyle LLC, finding that its use of the term "Old Taylor" falls under the Lanham Act's fair use defense. Sazerac Brands, LLC, v. Peristyle, LLC, No. 17-5933/5997 (6th Cir., entered June 14, 2018). The "Old Taylor" mark references Colonel Edmund H. Taylor, Jr., who built the Old Taylor distillery in 1887, and although production at the facility ceased in 1972, Sazerac Brands owns the trademark rights to "Old Taylor" and "Colonel E.H. Taylor." Peristyle was formed to renovate the medieval castle-style building, listed on the National Register of Historic Places as the "Old Taylor Distillery." Although Peristyle has not resumed bourbon production at the facility, it has used the name "Old Taylor Distillery" in its marketing materials. Noting that a defendant seeking shelter under the fair use defense must show use of the mark…

The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) has held that the name of German whisky Glen Buchenbach may mislead consumers into believing the product is manufactured in Scotland. Scotch Whisky Assoc. v. Klotz, No, C-44/17 (CJEU, entered June 7, 2018). CJEU clarified EU law on registered geographical indications, holding that an "indirect commercial use" can occur if the product at issue includes an element either identical or phonetically and visually similar to the registered indication but does not occur if the "element is liable to evoke in the relevant public some kind of association with the indication concerned or the geographical area relating thereto." CJEU remanded the case to German court for a final determination, which may consider a magistrate's preliminary finding that "'glen' does not have a sufficiently clear and direct link with the protected geographical indication in question."

Binny's Beverage Depot faces a putative class action alleging the company violated the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA) by collecting and sharing employee biometric information without informed consent. Burger v. Gold Standard Enters., Inc., No. 2018CH05904 (Ill. Ch. Ct., Cook Cty., filed May 7, 2018). The plaintiff alleges that Binny's established a fingerprint-based time-clock program and shared the collected data with third-party payroll processors and data-storage vendors without providing its employees "informed written consent, and without informing them through a publicly available written policy of how it was going to store and dispose of this irreplaceable information," and "failed to maintain lawful data retention practices which reduce the risk of theft or other misappropriation of its workers' biometrics by unauthorized third parties." The risk was compounded, the complaint asserts, because the biometric data was linked to Social Security numbers, addresses, birth dates and "potentially other relevant financial information." Claiming violations of…

The maker of Jack Daniel’s has filed suit against two Texas companies alleging they infringed the Tennessee whiskey’s trademark and trade dress by selling a line of whiskies in similarly shaped bottles with similar labeling. Jack Daniel’s Props., Inc., v. Dynasty Spirits, Inc., No. 18-2400 (N.D. Cal., filed April 20, 2018). The complaint alleges that Tennessee whiskey has been sold under the Jack Daniel’s mark “continuously since 1875, except during Prohibition” and is sold in a “square bottle with angled shoulders, beveled corners, and a ribbed neck, a black cap, a black neck wrap closure with white printing bearing the OLD NO. 7 mark, and a label with a white on black color scheme bearing the JACK DANIEL’S mark depicted in arched lettering at the top of the label [] and the word ‘Tennessee’ depicted in script.” The competitor whiskies “all feature a square bottle with angled shoulders, beveled corners…

A vintner has filed a lawsuit alleging Colorado's “wine development fee,” charged to wholesalers, is an unconstitutional excise tax. Vineland Corp. v. Colorado, No. 18-30199 (Colo. D.C., filed April 24, 2018). Since 1990, Colorado has imposed a 10-year renewable excise tax of one cent per liter on all vinous liquors sold in the state. In 1992, the state passed the Taxpayers Bill of Rights (TABOR), which mandated advance voter approval for extension of expiring taxes; in 1997, the legislature amended the 1990 act, renaming the excise tax a “wine development fee.” The plaintiff seeks declaratory judgment that the fee is “an impermissible attempt to extend an expiring tax without voter approval, and that this attempt to rename an excise tax surcharge [] without such voter approval is a violation of TABOR.” Further, the plaintiff seeks injunctive relief, attorney’s fees and a refund of all fees paid in the past four fiscal…

The maker of Kombucha Dog beverages has filed lawsuits against Trader Joe’s Co. and other kombucha producers alleging the companies misrepresent the amount of alcohol and sugar in their products and violate federal and state laws regulating the sale of alcohol beverages. Tortilla Factory, LLC v. Trader Joe’s Co., No. 18-2977; Tortilla Factory, LLC v. Better Booch, LLC, No. 18-2980; Tortilla Factory, LLC v. Makana Beverages, Inc., No. 18-2981; and Tortilla Factory, LLC v. Rowdy Mermaid Kombucha, LLC, No. 18-2984 (C.D. Cal., filed April 9, 2018). According to Tortilla Factory's complaints, kombucha's post-bottling fermentation can cause it to develop an alcohol content of 0.5 percent or more by volume, subjecting it to regulation under federal law, including Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau regulations that govern production, labeling and distribution. The complaints assert that independent testing revealed that the defendants' products contain between 1.0 and 2.7 percent alcohol but…

After advocacy groups asserted that DJ Khaled promotes alcohol brands to minors on social media, the music producer has reportedly reduced the number of his posts that mention alcohol. The complaint also alleged that Khaled failed to disclose his endorsement relationship with the brands, which include Diageo's Ciroc vodka and Sovereign Brands' Belaire sparkling wine. The contested posts include a Snapchat video of Khaled pouring alcohol into a bowl of cereal and an Instagram post featuring alcohol bottles displayed behind Khaled. Reportedly, many of Khaled’s followers are minors and he is the national spokesperson for educational nonprofit Get Schooled. Several news sources reported that Khaled's posts may violate federal law—including Federal Trade Commission rules governing branded content—and industry self-regulation standards, as the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States prohibits alcohol ads appearing on platforms in which at least 28 percent of the audience is under 21. Diageo, which reportedly ended Snapchat advertising…

The French agency responsible for protecting the country’s agricultural appellations of origin has filed a notice of opposition to a California winery’s application for the trademark “Beardeaux,” arguing that the use would dilute the protected term “Bordeaux” used to designate wines from southwestern France. Institut National de l’Origine et de la Qualité v. Bear River Winery LLC, No. 91240350 (T.T.A.B., notice of opposition filed March 29, 2018). The notice asserts that wines from the Bordeaux region of France are entitled to use an “appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC)” that “delimits the specific areas to which the appellation pertains, but also specifies the agricultural products from which the product may be derived and production methods and techniques that may be used to make the product.” Further, it argues that U.S. law recognizes the Bordeaux AOC “as a foreign nongeneric name of geographic significance which is also a distinctive designation of a specific…

A Massachusetts federal court has dismissed half of the claims in a lawsuit alleging Diageo-Guinness misrepresents where its Guinness Stout beer is brewed. O’Hara v. Diageo-Guinness USA Inc., No. 15-14139 (D. Mass., entered March 27, 2018). The plaintiff alleged that the “Frequently Asked Questions” page of Guinness’ website stated that “All Guinness sold in the UK, Ireland, and North America is brewed in Ireland at the historic St. James’s Gate Brewery in Dublin," while a disclosure on Guinness bottles sold in the United States indicate that the product is “Imported by DIAGEO – Guinness USA, Stamford, CT. Brewed and bottled by Guinness Brewing Company, New Brunswick, Canada. Product of Canada.” The court dismissed three of the six causes of action because the bottling and packaging labels were approved by the U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. A misrepresentation claim and two claims for violations of state consumer-protection laws will…

Close