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Diageo defeats appeal in Bulleit bourbon bottle trademark fight

Post Time:2024-05-29 Source:Reuters Author:Blake Brittain Views:

May 28 (Reuters) - Liquor giant Diageo (DGE.L) convinced a U.S. appeals court on Tuesday to uphold a ban on a whiskey maker's use of a bottle design that was found to be confusingly similar to Diageo's Bulleit bourbon packaging.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with a Manhattan federal court that Diageo provided enough evidence that W.J. Deutsch's Redemption whiskey bottles diluted Diageo's Bulleit trademark rights.

Representatives for Deutsch did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the decision. A Diageo spokesperson called the ruling "a victory for Diageo and our commitment to protecting our beloved brands."

Diageo sued Deutsch in 2017, accusing the Stamford, Connecticut-based company of copying Bulleit's "clear canteen-shaped glass bottle with rounded shoulders" and other distinctive features to create the same "vintage style and appearance." The lawsuit said Deutsch intended to trade on Bulleit's reputation.

A jury determined in 2022 that Deutsch's bottles diluted the distinctiveness of Bulleit's bottles. U.S. District Judge Louis Stanton barred Deutsch from using its bottle design based on the verdict later that year.

Deutsch told the 2nd Circuit during oral arguments in February that Bulleit did not have the "household-name level of recognition" needed to justify the dilution ruling. But a three-judge panel on Tuesday affirmed the jury's findings that Bulleit's design was famous enough and similar enough to Deutsch's to support the decision.

The case is Diageo North America Inc. v. W.J. Deutsch & Sons Ltd, 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, No. 22-2106