“Bourbon Barrel Aged” Wine Not Infringing, Court Rules
Following a bench trial, a California federal court has ruled that Fetzer Vineyards, Inc.’s “bourbon barrel aged” 1000 Stories red zinfandel wine, which features a sketch of a buffalo on its label, does not infringe the trademark or trade dress of Sazerac Co.’s Buffalo Trace bourbon. Sazerac Co. v. Fetzer Vineyards, Inc., No. 15-4618 (N.D. Cal., entered September 19, 2017). “This case was not close,” the court said. Sazerac “did not establish that Buffalo Trace’s bourbon trade dress was similar to 1000 Stories wine’s. It did not establish that Fetzer intended to infringe at the creation of its product or in its marketing. There was no evidence of actual confusion between the products … and no indication that consumers of 1000 Stories are even aware of Buffalo Trace.” The court had already limited Sazerac’s potential recovery to attorney’s fees after the company failed to provide damage calculations on a timely basis. Additional details appear in Issue 633 of this Update.