The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has reversed a lower court’s grant of
summary judgment in favor of Jim Beam Brands Co. in a lawsuit alleging
the company infringes JL Beverage’s Johnny Love Vodka® trademarked
logo, an image of puckered lips. JL Beverage Co. v. Jim Beam Brands
Co., No. 13-17382 (9th Cir., order entered July 14, 2016). Details on the
complaint appear in Issue 387 of this Update.

Bottles of Johnny Love Vodka® feature the name of the brand with a set
of puckered lips replacing the “O” in “Love,” which are then colored to
represent the flavor of the alcohol. In 2010, Jim Beam Brands redesigned
the Pucker® Vodka brand to emphasize a similar set of puckered lips and
variety of colors alternated to coordinate with the flavor of the vodka. JL
Beverage filed an infringement lawsuit after the company’s customers
reported confusion about Pucker’s redesign; the district court denied JL
Beverage’s request for a preliminary injunction, then granted summary
judgment for Jim Beam.

The Ninth Circuit focused on the lower court’s reasoning for granting
summary judgment, finding the court erred by applying the standard for a preliminary injunction to the summary judgment decision. “The district
court’s failure to apply the correct standard is significant: on motion
for preliminary injunction, the plaintiff—as the moving party—bears
the burden of establishing the merits of its claims,” the court noted. “In
contrast, on a defendant’s motion for summary judgment, not only does
the movant carry the burden of establishing that no genuine dispute of
material fact exists, but the court also views the evidence in the light most
favorable to the non-moving party.” The lower court “ignored the important
distinctions between the two standards,” the Ninth Circuit found.


Issue 612

About The Author


For decades, manufacturers, distributors and retailers at every link in the food chain have come to Shook, Hardy & Bacon to partner with a legal team that understands the issues they face in today's evolving food production industry. Shook attorneys work with some of the world's largest food, beverage and agribusiness companies to establish preventative measures, conduct internal audits, develop public relations strategies, and advance tort reform initiatives.

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