The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) has affirmed a refusal by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to register a trademark for La Finca wines on the grounds that the winemaker failed to show evidence that the brand has acquired distinctiveness. In re Finca La Celia, S.A., No. 86130560 (opinion issued March 31, 2017). Argentina-­based winemaker Finca La Celia, which sells its La Finca wines in Trader Joe’s stores, applied for registration of the mark in 2013 and appealed after a second reconsideration was denied. TTAB reversed USPTO’s refusal to register the mark on the ground that it was generic, holding that even though the term “la finca,” which means “the estate” in Spanish, is “merely descriptive,” the term is “not perceived by the relevant public as a generic name for a type of wine.”

TTAB affirmed the USPTO ruling that the maker had failed to show La Finca wines had acquired distinctiveness. After examining “copying, advertising expenditures, sales success, length and exclusivity of use, unsolicited media coverage, and consumer studies,” the board found insufficient evidence to support the winemaker’s claim.

 

Issue 631

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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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